What is incontinence?
Incontinence means the involuntary loss of bladder or bowel control and is a symptom, not a condition in itself.
There are a wide variety of conditions and disorders that can bring about incontinence, including birth defects, the effects of surgery, nerve damage, infection, and changes associated with aging. It can also occur as a result of pregnancy or childbirth.
Incontinence exists among children, men and women of all ages.
The scale of the condition varies too – in the case of urinary incontinence, from small and infrequent dribbles, to the occasional loss of bladder control or a total inability to hold urine.
Incontinence and aging
Aging causes a number of changes in the urinary system that can cause incontinence:
- Less bladder elasticity lowers capacity and causes more frequent voids
- Higher urine volume means that kidneys concentrate urine less efficiently
- Weaker detrusor muscle causing incomplete emptying
- Increase in spontaneous contractions of detrusor muscle
- Less able to postpone urination
- Less urethral closing pressure