Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital

Urinary Incontinence

Urinary Incontinence

Illustration of the anatomy of the urinary system, front view
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What is urinary incontinence (UI)?

Urinary incontinence (UI) is the loss of urine control, or the inability to hold your urine until you can reach a restroom. According to the National Association for Continence, approximately 25 million adult Americans experience temporary or chronic urinary incontinence. UI can strike at any age. Women over age 50 are the most likely to develop UI. Urinary incontinence may be a temporary condition, resulting from an underlying medical condition. It can range from the discomfort of slight losses of urine to severe, frequent wetting.

What causes urinary incontinence?

Incontinence is not an inevitable result of aging, but is particularly common in older people. It is often caused by specific changes in body function that may result from diseases, use of medications, and/or the onset of an illness. Sometimes, it is the first and only symptom of a urinary tract infection.

What are some of the different types of urinary incontinence?

The following are some of the different types of urinary incontinence:

What are the symptoms of urinary incontinence?

The following are the most common symptoms of urinary incontinence. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

The symptoms of urinary incontinence may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your physician for a diagnosis.

How is urinary incontinence diagnosed?

For people with urinary incontinence, it is important to consult a physician for a complete physical examination that focuses on the urinary and nervous systems, reproductive organs, and urine samples. In many cases, patients will then be referred to a urologist, a physician who specializes in diseases of the urinary tract.

Treatment for urinary incontinence:

Specific treatment for urinary incontinence will be determined by your physician based on:

Treatment may include:

Managing urinary incontinence:

There are many products and devices available for managing urinary incontinence. Specifically designed absorbent underclothing is available - which is no more bulky than normal underwear and can be worn easily under everyday clothing. Other incontinence products include washable, adult cloth diapers or contoured cloth diapers with plastic covers.

In some cases, depending upon the type of incontinence and after other management methods have proven to be ineffective, a catheter may be inserted into the urethra to collect the urine. Catheters may be used occasionally or on a constant basis, in which case a tube connects to a bag that attaches to the leg. Men can use a type of external catheter, condom catheter device, that is placed over the penis and connects to a bag that attaches to the leg.

Consult your physician with your questions regarding the management and treatment of urinary incontinence.

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Online Resources of Kidney and Urinary Disorders


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