In the United States, a stroke occurs every 40 seconds. Survivors of stroke often need to navigate the long-term effects stroke has left on their bodies, one of them being bladder dysfunction.
This article explains how stroke causes bladder dysfunctions, the types of bladder dysfunctions—retention, frequency, and incontinence, as well as treatments for bladder dysfunctions.
There are two types of strokes, ischemic stroke, and hemorrhagic stroke.
The ischemic stroke is the more common one, and it occurs when a blood clot blocks a blood vessel in the brain, causing brain cells to quickly die from the lack of blood circulation and oxygen, which in turn causes the body to lose some neurological functions. The ischemic stroke can also occur when plaque builds up inside an artery, causing it to narrow and eventually become blocked.
If you have suffered a mini ischemic stroke (transient ischemic stroke), you are at risk of suffering a more serious one.
Hemorrhagic stroke is the second type, and it happens when the blood vessel bursts or leaks.
In the United States, stroke is the fifth leading cause of adult death and disability, and nearly 800,000 people experience strokes each year.
These conditions (among others) can make you more at risk of stroke: diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and high cholesterol level.
Since a stroke causes neurological damage to the body, the nerves that control the bladder can also be damaged.
Nerves play a big role in the process of urination. When you urinate, the nerves that control the bladder trigger the bladder’s detrusor muscle to contract and push urine into the urethra, and the nerves also signal to the urethral sphincters to relax and let urine flow out of the body. When you are not urinating, the nerves signal the detrusor muscle to relax and the sphincter to contract to keep the urine in.
After a stroke, nerves controlling the bladder can be damaged. Because nerves can no longer properly signal to the bladder, this can lead to frequent urination (urinary frequency), inability to hold in urine (urinary incontinence), sudden urge to urinate (urinary urgency) or inability to urinate (urinary retention).
Pelvic floor exercises like Kegel strengthens the muscles that support the bladder, giving you greater control over your bladder.
Bladder training is about sticking to a set schedule for bathroom trips and resisting the urge to urinate outside of that schedule. Overtime, bladder training can increase the volume of fluid your bladder can hold, resulting in fewer bathroom trips and diminished feelings of urinary urgency.
For urinary retention (when you can’t urinate), the doctor may prescribe you with medicine or a catheter, which is inserted into the bladder through the urethra to help draw urine out.
For people who are bed-ridden or otherwise unable to move, the doctor may prescribe an indwelling catheter. For others, an intermittent catheter is prescribed. Usually, a stroke survivor only needs a catheter temporarily while recovering, but sometimes, their condition requires them to use a catheter long-term.
If you find it hard to walk or coordinate movements after stroke, you can
If you are experiencing leakage, you can
If you have trouble urinating and trouble voiding completely (urinary retention)
Untreated urinary retention can increase your risk of having a UTI, bladder infection, bladder damage (from bladder being stretched out), kidney infection, and kidney failure. Therefore, it is important for you to treat it seriously and closely follow your doctor’s advice.
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