Urinary Incontinence and Obesity

What is Urinary Incontinence?

Urinary Incontinence is an involuntary leakage of urine or the loss of bladder control on activities like laughing, sneezing, coughing, exercising etc.

Causes of Urinary Incontinence

Some of the temporary causes of urinary incontinence are Urinary Tract Infections, Constipation, certain foods, drinks or medications that act as diuretics. These temporary causes can be treated easily as they are due to an underlying cause.

Other types of Urinary Incontinence which are persistent and may have some physical cause: Pregnancy, Childbirth, Obstruction, age, being overweight or obese could be some of the physical causes of Urinary incontinence.

Types of Urinary Incontinence

Urinary Incontinence can be of the below types:

  • Stress Incontinence- Incontinence when activities like coughing, sneezing, laughing, exercise or lifting something heavy exerts pressure on the bladder.
  • Overflow Incontinence- Constant or frequent dripping of urine that may occur due to incomplete evacuation of the bladder.
  • Urge Incontinence- Sudden or frequent impulse to pass urine and inability to control or hold the urine. This may occur due to some type of infection or major reasons like diabetes or neurological disorders.
  • Functional Incontinence- When physical health problems like severe knee joint pain, inability to walk prevent from using the toilet when required.
  • Mixed Incontinence- If two or more of the above types is experienced by a person

Impact of Urine Incontinence

Urine Incontinence can affect very severely. It impacts daily and social functioning. It can affect psychologically, cause embarrassment and can have a major effect on family and sexual life as well.

Obesity and Urinary Incontinence

Some of the most common types of urinary incontinence seen are stress incontinence, urge incontinence and mixed incontinence. Several studies have shown that being overweight or obese is directly correlated with urinary incontinence. Each 5-unit rise in the weight can lead to increased risk of urinary incontinence by a huge 60-100%.

How are Obesity and Urinary Incontinence Co-related?

Obesity has become a rampant disease not just in developed but developing countries as well. Being overweight or obese causes the muscles of the pelvic floor to become weak. The abdominal fat deposition or excess fat in the central area and creates a pressure on the urinary bladder thus leading to the leakage of urine. Diabetes, another health problem occurring with obesity is also a reason for developing urinary incontinence. High blood sugar levels lead to more production of urine resulting in urgency to pass urine and incontinence. Similarly, diabetic neuropathy may damage the nerve endings of the bladder which could possibly lead to incontinence.

Bariatric Surgery and Urinary Incontinence

Multiple research studies have shown that an increase in BMI increases the risk of developing urinary incontinence. Only treating Urine Incontinence and not treating obesity will only decrease the chances of successfully treating obesity.

With multiple research findings over the years, it is found that bariatric surgery has a significant impact on Urinary Incontinence. Unless it is functional incontinence, bariatric surgery induces weight loss as well as reducing the excess fat deposition and thereby reducing the pressure on the urinary bladder and urethral mobility.

Bariatric surgery is also known to treat metabolic changes, inflammation and treat diabetes as well. With blood sugar levels coming to normal there is a reduction in urine production thus reducing the urgency and incontinence.

Physical dysfunction caused by obesity also reduces significantly after bariatric surgery. There is an improvement in the joint functioning hence allowing morbidly obese patients to access toilets in time thus preventing leakage and incontinence.


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