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Urinary incontinence affects women with type 2 diabetes

Urinary incontinence, or bladder leakage, is an issue not often discussed or revealed. For most, it is an embarrassing problem that can cause feelings of shame. However, this topic should not be brushed under the rug and forgotten. Why? Because urinary incontinence is commonly affects women with type 2 diabetes.

Urinary incontinence is "loss of bladder control," resulting in leakage of urine from the bladder. Urinary incontinence occurs more frequently as women age, and can happen more often during normal activities like sneezing or laughing. Weak or overactive muscles around the bladder can exacerbate the problem.

Women with type 2 diabetes at higher-risk for urinary incontinence

A study of nearly 82,000 women with type 2 diabetes, conducted by Dr. Karen L. Lifford, MD and colleagues at the Women's Hospital in Boston Massachusetts and published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found those women were much more likely to suffer from urinary incontinence. Secondly, the study also concluded the risk of urinary incontinence increases over time.

A 2010 study of 1,784 non-diabetic women and 488 diabetic women, led by Michelle Y. Morrill, MD, of Kaiser Permanente, found that 35 percent of women with diabetes experienced weekly bladder leakage, versus only 25 percent of women without diabetes. Furthermore, women with diabetes were much less likely to talk about this symptom with their spouse/partner or a doctor or nurse, and thus received less treatment.

Five ways to treat urinary incontinence

According to the Mayo Clinic, the methods of treatment for urinary incontinence can include the following:

  1. Bladder Training. This is a process by which the person practices controlling the urge to urinate, with the goal of increasing the amount of time between the urge to urinate, and actually urinating.
  2. Modifying fluid intake. Reducing the amount of fluids ingested, or cutting down on alcohol and caffeine, can lessen the need to urinate.
  3. Muscle Exercises. Strengthening muscles in the pelvis that prevent urine from being discharged can improve incontinence symptoms.
  4. Medications. A variety of different prescription medications are available to help control bladder leakage.
  5. Surgery. Sometime surgery is the best option if other treatments are not effective. During surgery, an "artificial urinary sphincter" is implanted" or "sling procedures" are used to help support the bladder and keep the urethra closed.

The method and extent of treatment depends on the cause and severity of this symptom of diabetes, and the doctor and patient reach a mutual decision about the course of treatment.

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