| Thu, May 12, 2016 @ 09:00 AM

If You Suffer From Urinary Incontinence, You’re Not Alone.

Posted by Medicare Made Clear

seniors-and-urinary-incontinenceIf you’ve ever leaked urine during a sneeze or had a sudden urge to urinate, you may have urinary incontinence. Although people of all ages can be affected by incontinence, it does tend to be more common in older adults.

According to the National Association for Continence, What is Incontinence?, 13 million Americans are incontinent – 85% of them are women. That’s 1 in 5 people over the age of 40 and at least half of all nursing home residents suffer from some type of incontinence.

The good news is that incontinence is treatable in the majority of people who have it.

Causes Of Urinary Incontinence

There are many causes of urinary incontinence, such as a weakened bladder, pregnancy or childbirth, pelvic surgery, injuries to the pelvic region or to the spinal cord, neurological diseases, multiple sclerosis, infection and degenerative changes associated with aging. There’s also more than one type of incontinence. For example:

  • Stress Incontinence: Leakage that occurs when you laugh, sneeze, cough, or lift heavy objects. Often the result of pregnancy and child birth.
  • Urgency Incontinence (OAB): Loss of urine due to the inability to reach the toilet after the sudden or frequent urge to urinate. Most often caused by overactive bladder (OAB).
  • Mixed Incontinence: A combination of stress and urgency incontinence.

Overactive bladder (OAB) affects approximately 33-34 million adults in the U.S. About 9 million have accidents because they cannot reach the toilet before losing bladder control, the large majority of whom are women.1 Men can also have OAB. However, men’s incontinence is usually due to sudden or frequent urges to urinate. An enlarged prostate will only make this condition worse.

Men with an enlarged prostate or anybody with a weakened bladder may notice the inability to empty the bladder completely, difficulty in starting the urine flow, or an interrupted urine flow even when the bladder feels full.

Symptoms of OAB and urgency incontinence:

  • Urgent and sudden urge to urinate
  • Increased frequency of urination
  • Getting up at night to urinate, or nocturia
  • Loss of urine when you can’t get to the toilet in time to prevent an accident


If you notice accidental urine leakage, the inability to empty your bladder, or you experience any other urinary changes, make an appointment to see your doctor. With an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment, the symptoms of incontinence can sometimes be cured or improved in the majority of people who seek help. There are many types of treatment available to help treat incontinence.

Weight loss: Reduces the severity of stress incontinence, as obesity contributes significantly to stress incontinence and the weakening of muscle support.

Dietary changes: The elimination or reduction of caffeine, alcohol, and artificial sweeteners may decrease irritation of the bladder wall and symptoms of OAB. A high fiber diet, regular physical activity, and staying hydrated helps.

Bladder retraining: Professional instruction from a specialized nurse can help control OAB.

Pelvic muscle exercises (PMEs), also known as Kegels: Strengthens the support of the pelvic organs, controlling leakage from stress incontinence, and managing sudden urges.

Biofeedback therapy: Uses small sensors close to the muscles of the pelvic floor to detect and record pelvic floor muscle activity.

Medications: Works to relax the bladder muscle in people with overactive bladders. Currently, there are no medications for treating leakage from stress incontinence.

Surgery: For severe cases of incontinence under the care of a qualified physician.

Absorbent pads and external catheters: Used while seeking treatment or if you decide against receiving any treatment.

For more information, explore MedicareMadeClear.com or contact the Medicare helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), TTY 1-877-486-2048.


Elderly Urinary Incontinence: Urinary incontinence in the elderly—APlaceForMom.com

1 The National Association For Continence, What Every Woman Should Know, Updated April 2014—(nafc.org)


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