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Tackling urinary incontinence

A common condition of advancing age might require further examination, writes Suneeta Kochhar

Urinary incontinence is more prevalent in women than men with an increasing incidence with advancing age.1 Stress urinary incontinence refers to involuntary leakage of urine on effort or exertion whereas urge urinary incontinence is involuntary leakage of urine associated with or preceded by a sudden desire to pass urine.1

Mixed urinary incontinence occurs when stress and urge urinary incontinence coexist. Overactive bladder (OAB) syndrome can cause urge urinary incontinence, which usually presents with increased frequency and nocturia.2 Spontaneous or provoked involuntary detrusor contractions can be observed on urodynamic studies: referred to as detrusor overactivity.

Pre-existing factors might be responsible for causing urinary incontinence, such as constipation, obesity, diabetes, alcohol and high fluid intake. It is important to assess the severity of incontinence and its impact on quality of life. Severity can be assessed by asking the patient when incontinence occurs and whether there is an activity that precipitates it.

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