Many people grossly underestimate just how many people suffer from urinary incontinence. According to several medical news sources, approximately 13 million Americans alone suffer from this condition. Urinary incontinence is the loss of voluntary control over one’s urine. Basically, it means that you urinate at times when you do not want to do so. This condition is often associated with the very elderly, but there are many other factors that can contribute to urinary incontinence.
Women are diagnosed with urinary incontinence more frequently than men by far. This is because there are more events in a woman’s life that put pressure and stress onto their bladders. Pregnancy, labor, menopause, and hysterectomies can all increase a woman’s chances of experiencing urinary incontinence. Pregnancy, labor, and other surgeries of this nature, put extreme pressure on the bladder and stress and weaken those muscles. The drop in estrogen levels during menopause can also increase the risk of urinary incontinence.
The primary risk factor specific to men is an enlarged prostate. An enlarged prostate, and any related surgeries would also place extreme pressure onto the bladder and could possible lead to incontinence. Anything that puts pressure onto the bladder, for example a tumor, can lead to urinary incontinence.
In addition to these risk factors, there are many ways in which both men and women can increase their risk of developing urinary incontinence. Other contributing factors include obesity, diet, smoking, and age. Overweight people place more weight and pressure on their bladders, and as people age, the bladder and surrounding muscles weaken. Other factors such as smoking and poor diet can also increase the risk of becoming incontinent.
There are also many medical conditions that include urinary incontinence as a symptom. For example, central nervous system conditions such as multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s, or a stroke. If the nervous system has been affected, the bladder may not be able to send the appropriate signals to the brain, or send them at the appropriate time. There are also people who are born with birth defects, or have been paralyzed, who experience full incontinence for the remainder of their lives.
Urinary incontinence certainly is not a rare condition reserved for the extremely old population; it can happen to most anyone. It is important to understand all of the potential risk factors, maintain healthy diet, make responsible lifestyle choices, and take all necessary precautions in order to protect the health and longevity of your bladder.