There are many common ailments that affect our urinary system, such as urinary tract infections (UTI), urinary incontinence and kidney stones. In this article, we will discuss these three common causes.
Urinary incontinence refers to the uncontrollable leakage of urine. While a more prevalent condition in women due to pregnancy and childbirth, both men and women can become incontinent from strokes, defective urinary tracts, multiple sclerosis and age-related problems.
Some causes of UI include:
- Fluids – Drinking tea, coffee, alcohol or medications with diuretic properties.
- Aging – The bladder and other pelvic floor muscles weaken over the years.
- History of surgery on organs near the bladder.
- Tumours or bladder stones within the urinary tract.
- History of strokes, Parkinson’s disease, tumours in the brain or spinal cord, nerve injuries in the pelvis or spinal cord.
Urinary incontinence an be managed through a wide range of non-invasive therapies, pelvic floor exercises and surgical methods.
Urinary Tract Infections
One of the most common infections is urinary tract infection (UTI). Women are especially prone to UTIs due to the female urethra being shorter, allowing bacteria to enter the bladder much more easily. They are also more prone to recurrent UTIs after menopause due to the decrease in oestrogen levels. The mucous lining of the urinary tract also diminishes, which means less resistance to bacterial infections.
Symptoms of UTI include painful urination, hot and foul-smelling urine, blood in the urine, milky or cloudy urine, painful lower abdomen, increased frequency of urinating, urge to pass urine even when there is none, nausea and vomiting.
There are a variety of preventive measures for UTIs, such as:
- Drinking plenty of water
- Drinking cranberry juice
- Wipe from front to back after bowel movements
- Urinate and clean the genital area after sexual intercourse
- Avoid fluids that irritate the bladder – alcohol, citrus juices and caffeine
Men are at a higher risk than women for developing kidney stones, with about 80% of kidney stone patients being men. They most commonly experience their first episode between the ages of 30 – 40 years old, whereas women tend to present later.
The classic symptom of kidney stones is pain occurring in the area between the ribs and hips (including the lower back), radiating to the groin.
Another sign of a kidney stone is reduced urine volume caused by obstruction of the bladder or urethra by a stone. On rare occasions, both ureters can be blocked, causing significant pain.
Kidney stones are either passed out naturally during urination, or treated with non-surgical therapies to break down the size of the kidney stones (to facilitate passing them out naturally), or surgery in the most serious of cases.
Should you experience urinary incontinence—particularly if accompanied by other factors such as pain or bleeding—see a doctor immediately in order to obtain a proper diagnosis and personalized treatment plan.