Urinary Incontinence

 Urinary incontinence

 is the unintentional loss of urine, or the loss of bladder control. This means the you can’t always control when you urinate. This of course is embarrassing, but it can be treated.

Millions of people in the United States have urinary incontinence.  It is most common at ages over 50 especially among women. One in three women over the age of 60 years are estimated to have bladder control problems.

Acupuncture treatment, at West Acupuncture has been very successful in controlling urinary incontinence  without surgery. This traditional method is also a very safe natural way of treating urinary incontinence using the body’s own powers, completely free of  negative side effects.

 

What are the types of incontinence?

There are two main kinds of chronic incontinence. Some women have both.

Stress incontinence

Stress incontinence is when urine leaks because of sudden pressure on your lower stomach muscles, such as when you cough, laugh, lift something or exercise. Stress incontinence usually occurs when the pelvic muscles are weakened, for example by childbirth or surgery. Stress incontinence is common in women and in many cases, can be treated successfully.

Stress incontinence can be caused by childbirth, weight gain, or other conditions that stretch the pelvic floor muscles. When these muscles cannot support your bladder properly, the bladder drops down and pushes against the vagina. You cannot tighten the muscles that close off the urethra, so urine may leak because of the extra pressure on the bladder when you cough, sneeze, laugh, exercise, or do other activities.

Urge incontinence

Urge incontinence happens when you have a strong need to urinate but can’t reach the toilet in time. This can happen even when your bladder is holding only a small amount of urine. Some women may have no warning before they accidentally leak urine. Other women may leak urine when they drink water or when they hear or touch running water. Overactive bladder is a kind of urge incontinence. But not everyone with overactive bladder leaks urine.

 

Overactive Bladder

Overactive bladder occurs when abnormal nerves send signals to the bladder at the wrong time, causing its muscles to squeeze without warning. Voiding up to seven times a day is normal for many women, but women with overactive bladder may find that they must urinate even more frequently.

Overactive bladder is a common bladder condition (1 in 6 adults), but can be treated. Overactive bladder is a real medical condition. It is not a normal sign of aging. It can occur at any age.

 

Specifically, the symptoms of overactive bladder include

  • Urinary frequency—bothersome urination eight or more times a day or two or more times at night
  • Urinary urgency—the sudden, strong need to urinate immediately
  • Urge incontinence—leakage or gushing of urine that follows a sudden, strong urge
  • Nocturia—awaking at night to urinate

 

Mixed incontinence

Mixed incontinence is a combination of different types of bladder control problems, usually stress and urge incontinence. These problems often occur together in older women.

 

Overflow incontinence

This type of incontinence is the uncontrollable leakage of small amounts of urine. It’s caused by an overfilled bladder. You may feel like you can’t empty your bladder all the way and you may strain when urinating. This often occurs in men and can be caused by something blocking the urinary flow, such as an enlarged prostate gland or tumor. Diabetes or certain medicines may also cause the problem.

Functional incontinence

This type occurs when you have normal urine control but have trouble getting to the bathroom in time. You may not be able to get to the bathroom because of arthritis or other diseases that make it hard to move around.

 

Acupuncture treatment of Incontinence

 

Oriental Medicine has been treating Incontinence and sexual dysfunction for over than 2000 years. Acupuncture treatment can significantly improve bladder capacity, urgency, frequency and improve your quality of life. It also strengthens the pelvic muscle for normal functioning of the Bladder and Urethra.

The treatment is usually twice or three times a week with acupuncture and a treatment series is usually 7 – 15 sessions. The treatment should increase one’s ability hold urination, decrease number of time one urinates at night, decrease urinary urgency, and create a smoother urine flow. In addition, patients can see an improvement in sexual function over the same period of time.

In oriental Medicine, Incontinence is caused by dysfunction of the kidney, spleen, and liver.

Especially, the kidneys are responsible for both sexual function and water metabolism. It is said that the kidney “governs water.” In other words, the kidneys regulate urination. Just like in western medicine, the kidneys filter out the urine. But unlike western medicine, kidney qi (or energy) also contributes to the ability to hold urine in the bladder as well as the ability to urinate completely. The kidney is also the main contributing organ for libido and sexual function.

The functions of the kidney can be described in terms of yin and yang. The ability for the bladder to sufficiently hold urine is a yin function. When there is too little kidney yin, the bladder cannot hold urine and may result in stress and urge incontinence. Stress incontinence occurs when one’s bladder leaks while laughing, coughing, or sneezing while urge incontinence is the sudden and urgent need to pass urine. Other symptoms of kidney yin deficiency are night sweats, red face, thirst, frequent nighttime urination, a rapid pulse, and a red tongue.

The ability to smoothly urinate is a yang function. When there is too little kidney yang, the bladder cannot properly control the opening and closing of the urethra, which can lead to inhibited urination. A problem with kidney yang may lead to overflow incontinence, which is described as difficulty in starting urinating and then there is dribbling after it begins. Other signs of yang deficiency are a feeling of cold in the body, possible loose stool, fatigue, a slow pulse, and a pale tongue. Impotence and poor libido is also a sign of kidney yang vacuity. Just as it is common to have many types of incontinence at the same time, it is also common for both kidney yin and yang to simultaneously be damaged.

The spleen is also an important in water metabolism and urination. Spleen Qi raises Qi in general and a sinking of Spleen Qi may be unable to control urine which leaks out.

If frequent urination is accompanied by extreme fatigue especially in the morning, loose stools, poor digestion, and a pale swollen tongue, the imbalance may be in the spleen. If it is worsened by stress or anger, the liver may also be involved.

According to Chinese Medical Pattern Discrimination we may see any one or a combination of the following patterns in incontinence.

Herbal Medicine and Herb tea for Incontinence

Herbs can be especially effective in treating urinary incontinence. The group of plants called toning herbs can strengthen and restore the mucous membranes in the urinary tract and may prevent incontinence.

Herbs can also be effective for ailments related to or precipitating incontinence, such as recurrent urinary tract infection, constipation, and diarrhea.

  • Ginseng Tea : patients who feels little energy, lethargy, fatigue, pale complexion, spontaneoussweating, dizziness,  prolapse of organs, low voice, little desire to speak, weakness in the arms and legs edema, poor appetite, loose stools, headache after exertion, bloating, indigestion, tired eyes, dry skin
  • Cinnamon Tea : patients who feel a cold sensation in low abdomen, cold extremities, cinnamon may lower blood glucose, triglycerides and LDL cholesterol in type 2 diabetes, reducing the rise in blood sugar after eating. In a study at Copenhagen University, patients given half a teaspoon of cinnamon powder combined with one tablespoon of honey every morning before breakfast had  significant relief in arthritis pain after one week and could walk without pain within one month.
  • Citron Tea : people who are under a lot of stress and easily become red in face
  • Wu Wei Zi Tea : It is widely used for all incontinence, reduces sweating, stops cough and diarrhea.
  • Yu Li Ren Tea : This tea used rid the body of unnecessary moisture, swelling, strengthens the digestive system and stops diarrhea.

What are Kegel exercises?

Stress incontinence can be treated with special exercises, called Kegel exercises (see the box below). These exercises help strengthen the muscles that control the bladder. They can be done anywhere, any time. Although designed for women, the Kegel exercises can also help men. It may take 3 to 6 months to see an improvement.

Kegel exercises

  • To locate the right muscles, try stopping or slowing your urine flow without using your stomach, leg or buttock muscles. When you’re able to slow or stop the stream of urine, you’ve located the right muscles.
  • Squeeze your muscles. Hold for a count of 10. Relax for a count of 10.
  • Repeat this 10 to 20 times, 3 times a day.
  • You may need to start slower, perhaps squeezing and relaxing your muscles for 4 seconds each and doing this 10 times, 2 times a day. Work your way up from there.

How do you do Kegel exercises?

The first step is to find the right muscles. One way to find them is to imagine that you are sitting on a marble and want to pick up the marble with your vagina. Imagine sucking or drawing the marble into your vagina.

Try not to squeeze other muscles at the same time. Be careful not to tighten your stomach, legs, or buttocks. Squeezing the wrong muscles can put more pressure on your bladder control muscles. Just squeeze the pelvic muscles. Don’t hold your breath. Do not practice while urinating.

Repeat, but don’t overdo it. At first, find a quiet spot to practice—your bathroom or bedroom—so you can concentrate. Pull in the pelvic muscles and hold for a count of three. Then relax for a count of three. Work up to three sets of 10 repeats. Start doing your pelvic muscle exercises lying down. This is the easiest position to do them in because the muscles do not need to work against gravity. When your muscles get stronger, do your exercises sitting or standing. Working against gravity is like adding more weight.

Be patient. Don’t give up. It takes just 5 minutes a day. You may not feel your bladder control improve for 3 to 6 weeks. Still, most people do notice an improvement after a few weeks.

Some people with nerve damage cannot tell whether they are doing Kegel exercises correctly. If you are not sure, ask your doctor or nurse to examine you while you try to do them. If it turns out that you are not squeezing the right muscles, you may still be able to learn proper Kegel exercises by doing special training with biofeedback, electrical stimulation, or both

What is bladder training?

Some people who have urge incontinence can learn to lengthen the time between urges to go to the bathroom. You start by urinating at set intervals, such as every 30 minutes to 2 hours (whether you feel the need to go or not). Then gradually lengthen the time between when you urinate (for example, by 30 minutes) until you’re urinating every 3 to 4 hours. You can practice relaxation techniques when you feel the urge to urinate before it is time to go to the bathroom. Breathe slowly and deeply. Think about your breathing until the urge goes away. You can also do Kegel exercises if they help control your urge. After the urge passes, wait 5 minutes and then go to the bathroom even if you don’t feel you need to go. If you don’t go, you might not be able to control your next urge. When it’s easy to wait 5 minutes after an urge, begin waiting 10 minutes. Bladder training may take 3 to 12 weeks.

For more information about the treatment of  Urinary Incontinence please call Dr. Cho at (562) 436 8881.