The inability to control the flow of urine is a common but embarrassing problem. In children, it may take the form of bedwetting, which can have a variety of causes, both physical and emotional. In adult females, a condition called stress incontinence can result in the involuntary passage of urine simply from laughing, sneezing, or coughing. Both males and females may experience a sudden, uncontrollable need to urinate known as urge incontinence.
There are numerous diseases associated with the involuntary passage of urine, many of which are readily treatable. In some cases, however, the problem may be an indication of a serious disorder.
Anatomical problems, many of which are associated with childbearing, obesity, or nerve damage, can lead to incontinence in women. In men, urinary incontinence is usually the result of a prostate disorder.
Causes of incontinence
This brain disorder, characterized by gradual mental deterioration, affects mainly elderly people. In the advanced stages, patients may have complete loss of bladder and bowel control, along with total memory loss and other severe symptoms.
Lack of nighttime bladder control is common in children under the age of 10 but unusual in adults. In children, the cause is usually physical immaturity; some youngsters (especially boys) either sleep too deeply to get up and go to the bathroom or lack hormonal signals that control the output of urine. In adults, an underlying disorder such as diabetes is usually present. Sometimes emotional factors play a role in bedwetting in both children and adults.
This inflammation or infection of the bladder may occur in males or females but is more common among women. It is often accompanied by urethritis, an infection of the urethra, which is the tube that carries urine out of the bladder. A frequent and urgent need to urinate, which may necessitate getting up
Bladder infections(cystitis), which often cause incontinence, are common in women because bacteria can easily enter through the relatively short urethra.
repeatedly at night, is one of the symptoms of chronic cystitis.
Dementia is a chronic brain disorder that results in mental impairment. It may be a feature of a variety of disorders, including chronic alcoholism, AIDS, and repeated small strokes. Whatever its cause, dementia is characterized by permanent, organic damage to the brain. Incontinence may be a symptom, along with forgetfulness, depression, and various behavioral changes.
Frequent urination and, in some cases, incontinence, are symptoms of both types of diabetes. Fatigue, excessive thirst, an increased appetite, and decreased resistance to infections are other common symptoms.
The hormonal changes that mark the end of ovulation and menstruation in middle-aged women can lead to irritation of the bladder and urethra. This irritation may cause incontinence, particularly in women whose pelvic muscles have been weakened by childbearing.
This chronic disorder, in which the fatty sheath that coats the nerves is destroyed for unknown reasons, may affect many of the functions of the nervous system, including the ability to control the bladder. In the later stages, loss of bladder or bowel control may be accompanied by difficulty speaking, marked weakness, tremors, and mood swings.
A disease of the central nervous system that affects older adults, this condition is characterized by a gradual and progressive rigidity of the
muscles, along with tremors and clumsy movements. Some people with Parkinson's disease also experience loss of bladder control and other symptoms such as difficulty swallowing.
This is an inflammation of the prostate, the male gland located at the base of the bladder, surrounding the upper end of the urethra. Common symptoms of the condition include a frequent, urgent need to urinate, difficulty in starting urination and in emptying the bladder completely, and burning sensations accompanying urination. The urinary urgency may be so great that it leads to occasional incontinence.
Nerve damage due to a spinal injury or disease can result in the inability to control bladder function, along with paralysis, susceptibility to infections, and other serious symptoms.
A stroke is the death of brain tissue due to a blood clot or bleeding in the brain. The resulting symptoms depend on the area of the brain that is affected, but they may include loss of vision or speech, weakness or paralysis, behavioral changes, and loss of bladder and bowel control.
In its later stages, which may develop years after the primary infection, this sexually transmitted disease can cause incontinence, along with mental deterioration and other severe complications. The earliest primary symptom is a painless, red sore called a chancre on the genitals, mouth, or rectum.
The main indication of an obstruction in the urethra is the partial or total inability to urinate. There may also be incontinence consisting of dribbling or dripping before or after urinating.
Advice about incontinence
- Simple exercises to strengthen muscles that support the bladder and urethra can, in many cases, help women control stress incontinence.
- Good personal hygiene and safe sexual practices can prevent infections that may lead to incontinence.