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Adult Urinary Incontinence is More Common than You Might Think

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Many people think of urinary incontinence, the involuntary loss of urine, as something that happens as you get older, and there is some truth to that.  As the bladder muscles age, they tend to weaken and the bladder’s urine storage capacity can decrease.  That, plus the increasing frequency of bladder contractions as you get older, often lead to occasional, frequent, or even constant leaks.

Urinary incontinence is not restricted to older people, though.  While it’s not as common, younger people can suffer from it too.  

There are different types of urinary incontinence.  

One of the most common types is Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI).  According to the American Urological Association, “about 1 in 3 women suffer from SUI [stress urinary incontinence] at some point in their lives”.  The pelvic floor helps to support the bladder, rectum, and uterus.  When the muscles of the pelvic floor are weak any stress on the bladder can result in urine leakage.  There are degrees of severity of SUI.  With mild SUI, the pressure often must be sudden and forceful such as exercise, coughing, or sneezing.  With more sever SUI, accidents can happen when standing up, walking, or bending.  The leaks can range from a few drops to enough to soak through clothing.

Another common type of urinary incontinence is the Overactive Bladder (OAB).  It is also called “urgency incontinence”.  It’s that “Get out my way! I’ve got to pee!” mad dash to the bathroom.  OAB is bladder muscles being overactive and contracting to pass urine even when the bladder isn’t full.  It can be caused by weak muscles, some medications, alcohol or caffeine, nerve damage or other factors.  Weight can play a role in OAB as well.  OAB affects more than 30% of men and 40% of women in the U.S., some 33 million people all told.

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People who have both SUI and OAB have what is called Mixed Incontinence.

Overflow incontinence is when there is constant or frequent dribbling of urine because the bladder doesn’t empty completely.  This could be caused by the bladder’s inability to contract because of weak muscles, or by an obstruction in the urinary tract.  It can also be caused by urinary stones, scar tissue, tumors, or swelling from infection.  Overflow incontinence can also be the result of conditions that affect the nerves such as diabetes or multiple sclerosis or drugs that affect nerve signals to the bladder such as some anticonvulsants and antidepressant drugs.

Functional incontinence occurs when there is an impairment such as a mobility issue that prevents you from making it to the bathroom on time.  Neurological disorders, arthritis, or stroke complications, for instance, could prevent someone from unzipping or removing their clothing in time.

If you find yourself among the millions of people with urinary incontinence, you are not alone!  The estimates provided by American Urological Association and other health bodies are those of just the reported cases.  It is thought that there are many other people who don’t tell their healthcare provider about their bladder leaks.  Sometimes they’re embarrassed, and sometimes they think it’s a “normal” part of aging or that nothing can be done about it when the truth is there are different medical treatments for incontinence including Kegel exercises for men and for women.  Your doctor may also recommend diet and lifestyle changes.  There are also medications, devices, and sometimes surgery depending upon the type, the cause, and the severity of the condition.

There are also NannoDry® pads, the all-natural discreet incontinence pad for men and women that protects against wetness and odor from bladder leaks. Try NannoDry and feel confident and comfortable all day long.

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