Incontinence - It May Be Your Medication
If you are showing signs of urinary incontinence (involuntary loss of urine) or if your incontinence problem seems to be getting worse, take stock of your medicine cabinet. Commonly recommended medications could be the cause of your incontinence, or at least contributing to them. If you suspect medications may be worsening or the cause of your urinary incontinence, describe your incontinence symptoms to your doctor and let him or her know about all the medicines you take, both prescription and over-the-counter. That way, your doctor can help determine whether these medicines should be adjusted or stopped, or if a treatment should be modified.
Here are the most common medicines that can worsen or cause urinary incontinence:
High Blood Pressure Medicine
Also called alpha-adrenergic antagonists, these medicines -- including Cardura, Minipress, and Hytrin are used to treat high blood pressure or enlarged prostate glands in men.
If you are on an alpha blocker and you are experiencing urinary incontinence, go back to your doctor who prescribed the alpha blocker and ask if there is something else you can be treated with.
While a few antidepressants actually help urinary incontinence (Tofranil and Elavil), most can worsen symptoms of urinary incontinence.
Commonly called "water pills," diuretics work in the kidney to reduce blood pressure by flushing excess water and salt out of the body. That translates to more bathroom visits and a worsening of incontinence symptoms. Often times taking the diuretic in the morning will alleviate the nighttime incontinence.
Only about 10% of patients with incontinence wet the bed. However, sleeping pills may pose a problem for those with incontinence at night. Sleeping pills can make things worse because people don't wake up [when their bladder is full. As an alternative, cut down on caffeine so you sleep better on your own. Sleeping pills are overprescribed. If you already have incontinence, it can worsen the situation. You might consider alternatives to help you sleep. If you needs a little something to help you go to sleep, an antihistamine, like Benadryl, can be helpful. Paying attention to lifestyle can help, too. Exercise so you will be tired and will fall asleep easier.
Sleep will come more easily if you keep a regular bedtime and wake-up schedule, according to the National Sleep Foundation. You can also develop a relaxing bedtime ritual, such as reading a book or listening to soothing music.
How to Talk About Urinary Incontinence
Bringing up the topic of urinary problems with your doctor or your spouse is never easy; most people are at least a bit embarrassed. But open communication can help you find out about the causes of incontinence and whether your medications may be contributing.
One good opener might be something like this: "I have been having bladder troubles."
If you will be visiting a new doctor, and have not yet selected him or her, you might seek out a doctor of the same sex, if you think that would help you feel more comfortable. Or, you might bring up the topic first with your doctor's nurse.
Preparing for the conversation about urinary incontinence may help you feel more in control. That means being able to answer the questions your doctor is likely to ask, including:
When did your urinary incontinence symptoms begin? Have you had urinary incontinence symptoms before? What medications are you on, and when did you start each of them?
You may find it easier to talk about incontinence if you acknowledge it as a medical condition that needs treatment, just as high blood pressure, arthritis, or high cholesterol does. Treatment options are plentiful, and nearly everyone can be helped so that symptoms, if they don't go away completely, they will certainly improve.
Bottom Line: No one needs to suffer the embarrassment of urinary incontinece in silence. Help is available.
Content reprinted with permission from Neil Baum, MD, neilbaum.com.
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