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Supporting men with urinary incontinence

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Urinary incontinence is defined as involuntary leakage of urine, which occurs when bladder pressure exceeds urethral pressure.1 It is estimated that 7-10 per cent of men older than 65 years who are living at home suffer from incontinence.2 However, although urinary incontinence is perceived to be a problem associated with older adults, it can occur at any age and can have a significant impact on a man's quality of life and self-esteem.3

Urge urinary incontinence or overactive bladder syndrome is the most common cause of incontinence in men.2 It is characterised by a sudden, strong desire to pass urine, usually with frequency (more than eight micturitions in 24 hours) and nocturia (waking more than once in the night to void).4

Nurses have an important role to play in assessing and supporting men with incontinence. In this article, epidemiology and risk factors, quality of life issues, assessment, and management of urge urinary incontinence using lifestyle changes and pharmacological interventions are discussed.

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