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Incontinence

Incontinence Overview

Urinary incontinence, often associated with an Over Active Bladder (OAB), is the unexpected and embarrassing loss of bladder control in adults. As many as 12 million Americans are incontinent, some over a long period of time and others only temporarily. Women are about twice as likely as men to become incontinent, and the risk increases with age.

Incontinence occurs when the urinary system can't properly control the storage of urine in the bladder and its periodic release. An adult who becomes incontinent will involuntarily release urine before finding a toilet, and sometimes even before knowing the bladder is emptying.

Contributing Factors to Incontinence

A variety of medical conditions may cause incontinence such as:

Other disorders can also be associated with incontinence including:

While incontinence is the number one reason the elderly are admitted to nursing homes, and up to half of all nursing home patients are incontinent, the disorder is not a “normal” phase of aging. In other words, no one has to accept the condition simply as a result of having lived a long life. It can usually be successfully treated through surgery, medication, medical devices or various behavioral therapies.

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Last Reviewed: May 14, 2007

Martin I Resnick, MD Martin I Resnick, MD
Formerly, Professor of Urology
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University