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Inability to control the release of urine from the bladder; also known as Urinary Incontinence. This can range from an occasional leakage of urine, to a complete inability to hold any urine.
Persons most commonly affected: Most common among the elderly. Women are more likely than men to have urinary incontinence.
Organ or part of body involved: Urinary Tract
Symptoms and indications: Urine leaks during a sneeze, laugh, or cough; Urine leaks when lifting or running; Not enough time to reach a toilet once the urge to urinate is felt; Urine continues to dribble after urinating; Urine leakage follows an intense desire to empty the bladder; and Continual leakage of urine.
Causes and risk factors: Urinary incontinence has many possible causes. Some causes are temporary and can be managed with simple treatment. Examples include: Consuming alcohol to excess, drinking a lot of fluid, not drinking enough fluid, high calcium levels in the blood, overdoing the caffeine, consuming foods and beverages that irritate your bladder like carbonated drinks, tea and coffee -- with or without caffeine, taking certain medications, urinary tract infection and constipation.
More often, urinary incontinence is a persistent condition caused by some underlying physical problem -- weakened muscles, nerve problems or an obstruction in your urinary tract. Factors that can lead to chronic incontinence include: Pregnancy and childbirth, diabetes, prolapsed uterus, hormonal changes following menopause, hysterectomy, interstitial cystitis, prostatitis, enlarged prostate, prostate cancer, bladder cancer, neurological disorders, obstruction and other illnesses or injuries.
Prevention: Incontinence may or may not be something you can prevent. Oftentimes the cause of incontinence is out of your control. However, you may be able to decrease your risk of urinary incontinence with these steps:
Maintain a healthy weight : By taking good care of yourself and keeping or getting your weight under control, you may be able to decrease your risk of urinary incontinence.
Practice Kegel exercises : Because pregnancy and childbirth can weaken the urinary sphincter and pelvic floor muscles, doctors may advise pregnant women to do Kegel exercises during pregnancy as a preventive step.
Avoid bladder irritants: Avoiding or limiting certain foods and drinks may help prevent incontinence. For example, if you know that drinking more than two cups of coffee makes you have to urinate uncontrollably, cutting back to one cup of coffee or forgoing caffeine may be all that you need to do.
Eat more fiber: Including more fiber in your diet or taking fiber supplements can help prevent constipation, which can be a cause of incontinence. Your doctor may recommend that you drink more or less water as a preventive measure, depending on your bladder problem.