Struggling with incontinence? seek help

More than 15 million Americans, primarily women, suffer from incontinence.

About 25 percent of females and 15 percent of males over the age of 65 suffer from incontinence. Incontinence is not a disease; rather, it is a symptom that can be caused by a wide range of conditions, such as urinary tract or vaginal infections, constipation, pelvic muscle weakness, diabetes, stroke, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, some surgeries or even childbirth. It can even be a side effect of some medications. During November-Bladder Health Month-the American Urological Association (AUA) encourages people struggling with incontinence to see a doctor to learn the underlying cause of their incontinence and seek treatment instead of suffering in silence.

There are two common types of incontinence:

  • Stress incontinence: leaking urine during activities such as walking, aerobics, or even sneezing or coughing. The added abdominal pressure associated with these events can cause urine to leak
  • Urge incontinence: the uncontrollable, frequent urge to urinate. These urges come without warning and can lead to embarrassing accidents. Urge incontinence is also referred to as "overactive bladder"

To diagnose incontinence, the doctor will first ask questions about the individual's habits and fluid intake, as well as his or her family, medical and surgical histories. The doctor will conduct a thorough pelvic examination, looking for correctable causes for leakage, such as impacted stool, constipation or hernia. He or she will conduct a urinalysis and a cough stress test as well. If the findings suggest further evaluation, other tests may be recommended.

In most cases of incontinence, minimally invasive management, such as fluid management, bladder training, pelvic floor exercises and medication, can improve symptoms. However, if these alternatives fail, surgical treatment may be necessary. There are also a variety of medical devices available to assist patients with incontinence.

"Don't be afraid to talk to your doctor if you are leaking urine," said Tomas Griebling, MD. "Incontinence usually can be cured, treated or adequately managed so that bladder control problems do not interfere with a healthy, productive and active lifestyle."

AUA Foundation:
Simon Foundation for Continence:
National Association for Continence:

During this important month and throughout the year, the AUA can provide information, statistics and expert commentary on subjects related to bladder health. The AUA can assist in developing related story topics such as:

  • New techniques and technology to treat incontinence
  • Living with urologic conditions
  • When to seek treatment
  • Dealing with children with urologic conditions: What parents need to know
  • Risk factors for bladder cancer

About the American Urological Association: Founded in 1902 and headquartered near Baltimore, Maryland, the American Urological Association is the pre-eminent professional organization for urologists, with more than 16,000 members throughout the world. An educational nonprofit organization, the AUA pursues its mission of fostering the highest standards of urologic care by carrying out a wide variety of programs for members and their patients, including, an award-winning on-line patient education resource, and the American Urological Association Foundation, Inc.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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