Facts About Urinary Incontinence

Facts About Urinary Incontinence

Urinary incontinence is a very common and commonly-treatable disorder affecting ten million men, women, and children in the United States every year. This disorder is characterized by the unwanted leakage of urine. Individuals with this disorder may suffer the psychosocial consequences of urinary incontinence, including poor self-esteem and social withdrawal. Other consequences include skin diseases and urinary tract infections.

Urinary incontinence has a variety of causes. Certain individuals with neurogenic problems (i.e., multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, stroke, and diabetes mellitus) may have urinary incontinence as a consequence of a disease of the nervous system that leads to problems with control. In addition, diseases affecting the bladder, such as urinary tract infection, cancer, and other inflammatory diseases, can cause problems with bladder control as well.

Many children with bedwetting (nocturnal enuresis) may have this problem as a consequence of the inability to concentrate the urine at night, which results in larger quantities of urine at night.

Treatment options for incontinence are many. The choice of treatment for incontinence is based upon the individual's cause of incontinence, as well as the severity. Although pads are useful initially to control incontinence, means to cure incontinence are available which may make pads unnecessary. Treatment options include medications, behavioral therapy, and surgical treatments.

A very common cause of incontinence in women is that of "stress urinary incontinence." This occurs when there is weakness of the pelvic floor that supports the bladder, such that the individual leaks spurts of urine on coughing, sneezing, laughing, or exercising. This incontinence can be cured with the use of pelvic floor exercises, as well as with various surgical treatments.

The National Association for Continence (NAFC), formerly Help for Incontinent People or HIP, is dedicated to consumer education about urinary incontinence. This organization, based in Spartanburg, S.C., has served for the past 14 years as a nationwide clearinghouse for the dissemination of information about incontinence. NAFC has an 800 number, as well as a variety of educational materials available to lay and professional audiences for the purpose of education regarding incontinence.

Further information about the evaluation and treatment of incontinence can be obtained from NAFC at 1-800-BLADDER or PO Box 8310, Spartanburg, SC 29305, e-mail: sbre...@globalvision.net or visit: http://www.nafc.org

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