Facts About Loss of Bladder Control

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Loss of bladder control is called urinary incontinence

  • It can happen to anyone, but is very common in older people
  • At least 1 in 10 people age 65 or older has this problem
  • Symptoms can range from mild leaking to uncontrollable wetting
  • Women are more likely than men to have incontinence

In most cases urinary incontinence can be treated and controlled, if not cured

Incontinence causes and risk factors
These factors can cause long term bladder control problems:

  • weak bladder muscles
  • overactive bladder muscles
  • blockage from an enlarged prostate
  • damage to nerves that control the bladder from diseases such as multiple sclerosis or Parkinson's disease
  • diseases such as arthritis that can make walking painful and slow

Other common causes of incontinence
Aging does not cause incontinence. It can occur for many reasons; these common conditions can cause bladder control problems for a short time period:

  • urinary tract infections
  • vaginal infection or irritation
  • constipation
  • certain medicines

Types of Incontinence

  • Stress incontinence happens when urine leaks during exercise, coughing, sneezing, laughing, lifting heavy objects, or other body movements that put pressure on the bladder. It is the most common type of bladder control problem in younger and middle-age women. In some cases it is related to childbirth. It may also begin around the time of menopause.
  • Urge incontinence happens when people can't hold their urine long enough to get to the toilet in time. Healthy people can have urge incontinence, but it is often found in people who have diabetes, stroke, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, or multiple sclerosis. It is also sometimes an early sign of bladder cancer.
  • Overflow incontinence happens when small amounts of urine leak from a bladder that is always full. A man can have trouble emptying his bladder if an enlarged prostate is blocking the urethra. Diabetes and spinal cord injury can also cause this type of incontinence.
  • Functional incontinence happens in many older people who have normal bladder control. They just have a hard time getting to the toilet in time because of arthritis or other disorders that make moving quickly difficult.

External Source

National Association for Continence. Accessed April, 2008. Available at http://www.nafc.org

Simon Foundation for Continence. Accessed April, 2008. Available at http://www.simonfoundation.org

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Accessed April, 2008. Available at http://www2.niddk.nih.gov

Author: Geri Metzger

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