Diabetes, Nerve Damage, and Incontinence
November 13, 2018
A common cause of incontinence in men and women is nerve damage. Muscles and nerves work in tandem to hold urine in and let urine out: when your bladder is full, nerves send a signal to your brain that it’s time to urinate. Then your brain sends a message to the bladder muscles to act accordingly. If any of the nerves along this pathway are damaged, the result can be urinary leakage.
The term for nerve damage affecting bladder control is neurogenic bladder. Neurogenic bladder means the bladder doesn’t communicate properly with the brain, and the nerves and muscles controlling urine flow don’t function properly. This causes leaks to occur when the bladder is filling up or after urination because the bladder doesn’t fully empty. There can be many causes, including: multiple sclerosis (MS), Parkinson’s disease, stroke, spinal cord or brain injury, brain or spinal cord infections, vaginal childbirth, and heavy metal poisoning. Additionally, children can be born with birth defects, Spina Bifida, or nerve damage that can result in childhood incontinence.
Nerve damage as a result of diabetes is called diabetic neuropathy. According to the American Diabetes Association, roughly half of people with diabetes will have some form of nerve damage. The nerve damage is caused by high blood sugar levels in the body. Typically, the damage occurs slowly over time, rather than all at once. Therefore, if bladder nerves are damaged, incontinence may develop gradually, starting with a few drips or dribbles, and progress to full voids.
Treatment and Solutions
There are multiple treatment options for people dealing with incontinence due to nerve damage. The primary treatment options are:
- Drug Therapy
- Incontinence Products
Catheterization is a common treatment recommended by doctors, however, comes with a high risk of complications such as UTIs, urethra infections, urethra inflation, among other issues (urethral fistulas and prostatic abscesses). Intermittent catheters are often used in combination with incontinence products to help prevent UTI’s where moisture may be present. Drug therapy is effective for some but can have many side effects. The “last resort” is often surgery, but like many surgeries they can be expensive and may have complications.
A non-evasive way to manage bladder leakage is using incontinence products. Incontinence products come in a variety of styles and sizes, as well as many brands. One of the important factors to consider is absorbency. The level of absorbency you need from a product depends on the type of incontinence you have and the amount of urine you lose. For light incontinence (drips, dribbles, small leaks) you want to consider a pad or liner that is worn inside regular underwear. Pads and liners are soft, discrete, and easy to change on the go. For men with light incontinence, the Tranquility® Male Guard is a great solution. It is specifically designed for men, featuring a cup shape, that comfortably moves with you and protects against leaks.
For people with moderate to heavy incontinence, disposable briefs and disposable absorbent underwear can absorb multiple voids (completely emptying the bladder), for hours of protection. These superabsorbent products are designed to allow for hours of uninterrupted activity (sleep, family activities, shopping, etc.).
Tranquility can help you manage your incontinence due to nerve damage, from the early days of light leakage, all the way to full incontinence. We can assist you with finding the best product for you at whatever stage you may be. Give us a call today for a free consolation, and we’ll find the right products for you to sample, and help you locate a dealer in your area.
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