Ricker Polsdorfer, MD
Urinary incontinence is the loss of voluntary bladder control causing leakage of urine. This temporary or chronic condition has multiple mechanisms and many causes. Each cause has its own methods of diagnosis and its own treatment plan.
Urinary bladder function is a careful balance between pressure from the bladder to empty and resistance from the sphincter (valve) at its outlet. Pressure to empty increases suddenly when the bladder reaches a certain volume.
Sphincter resistance depends not only on the strength of the muscle but also on its position. Both forces are controlled mostly by your autonomic (automatic) nervous system, the same system that regulates body temperature, heart rate, blood pressure, and digestion. Howver, you do have control over the sphincter and can strengthen it with exercise.
Urinary incontinence is common, especially in older men and women. This is especially true of people who are living in a nursing home. Those who are
may be more likely to have urinary incontinence.
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Urinary incontinence. National Association for Continence website. Available at:
Accessed December 29, 2015.
Urinary incontinence in men. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:
http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T900624/Urinary-incontinence-in-men. Updated July 22, 2016. Accessed October 6, 2016.
Urinary incontinence in women. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:
http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T900573/Urinary-incontinence-in-women. Updated August 15, 2016. Accessed October 6, 2016.
Last reviewed December 2015 by Adrienne Carmack, MD
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