Incontinence: Making a connection

Q. Is incontinence a normal part of aging?

A. No. Incontinence is more common in older people, but it is not a normal part of the aging process - it can be treated.

Q. Is incontinence a disease?

A. No. Incontinence is a symptom of a condition such as weak pelvic muscles; a neurological disease such as multiple sclerosis; or a side effect of an injury, a medication, or surgery.

Q. How common is incontinence?

A. It is estimated to affect 3.3 million Canadians. Up to one-half of women 45 years and older have incontinence; about 16% of men over the age of 40 have symptoms of urinary incontinence.

Q. What are the symptoms of incontinence?

A. Incontinence is the involuntary leaking of urine. This is the major symptom of bladder incontinence. It might be a large or small volume of urine; it may occur after sneezing or coughing; it could also be a strong and frequent urge to urinate. Some individuals always feel the need to go the bathroom again, even just after emptying their bladder.

Q. Does incontinence come and go?

A. It can, depending on the cause. For example, a urinary tract infection or constipation may cause you to leak urine. Once the urinary tract infection or constipation clears, you may no longer experience incontinence.

Q. How can I manage my incontinence?

A. There are many ways to effectively manage your incontinence, including limiting or eliminating alcohol and caffeinated coffee and tea, maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, completely emptying your bladder when you urinate, regulating how often you urinate, and wearing protective absorbent pads or undergarments when necessary.

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