Urinary Incontinence Basics
What is urinary incontinence?
Urinary incontinence is losing urine when you don’t want to. It’s important to know that urine loss is not normal, not even in older adults. Help is available for urine loss. It is not a disease. It is a sign of problems in the urinary tract or in the nerves that connect the urinary tract to the spinal cord and brain.
Some conditions of urinary incontinence are temporary, while others may last for a longer time. Incontinence can lead to hygiene and/or social problems.
How common is it?
Urine loss is a very common problem. It’s most common in people age 65 and older. It can affect you, whether you’re a woman or a man, but it occurs 3 times more often in women than in men. Only 1 in 12 people who has this condition seeks medical help.
- Feeling a strong need or desire to pass urine — it comes on very quickly with no warning
- Going to the bathroom often, more often than every 2 hours
- Getting up at night more than 2 times to pass urine
- Limiting fluid intake to try to avoid urine leaks
- Worrying about going places for fear of leaking urine
Are there types of urine loss?
Urine loss is not the same for everyone who has it. There are 3 main types:
Having sudden urges to pass urine, frequently needing to pass urine, getting up at night to pass urine, and leaking urine
Leaking urine during physical activity, such as: sneezing, coughing, bending, lifting, laughing, and jumping
Passing only small amounts of urine, feeling the bladder is full, feeling the bladder is not empty, and often leaking small amounts of urine
What is the cause?
Urine loss has many possible causes. To learn the cause of your problem, you need to see a doctor for an evaluation.
What treatments are available?
After your doctor evaluates the symptoms, several treatments are available to help. Your doctor may prescribe:
- Doing bladder training exercises
- Scheduling bathroom trips
- Changing fluid intakes throughout the day
- Changing medicine (sometimes)
Remember: Urine loss is not normal and can be helped.
To learn more
To learn more, call the University of Pittsburgh Institute on Aging at 1-866-430-8742, or visit the Web at http://aging.upmc.com/.