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Urinary Incontinence

Urge Incontinence
Urge incontinence (also known as overactive bladder) happens when people can't hold their urine long enough to get to the toilet in time. Healthy people can have urge incontinence, but it is often found in people who have:
This type of urinary incontinence is also sometimes an early sign of bladder cancer.
Overflow Incontinence
Overflow incontinence happens when small amounts of urine leak from a bladder that is always full. A man can have trouble emptying his bladder if an enlarged prostate is blocking the urethra. Diabetes and spinal cord injury can also cause this type of urinary incontinence.
Functional Incontinence
Functional incontinence occurs in many older people who have normal bladder control. They just have a hard time getting to the toilet in time, because of arthritis or other disorders that make it difficult to move quickly.

Making a Diagnosis

The first step in treating urinary incontinence is to see a doctor. In order for your doctor to make a urinary incontinence diagnosis, he or she will give you a physical exam and ask about your medical history. The doctor will also ask about your symptoms, and the medicines you use. He or she will want to know if you have been sick recently, or had surgery. Your doctor may also do a number of tests. These tests might include:
  • Urine and blood tests
  • Tests that measure how well you empty your bladder.
In addition, your doctor may ask you to keep a daily diary of when you urinate, and when you leak urine. Your pattern of urinating and urine leakage may suggest which type of incontinence you have.
(To learn more, click Urinary Incontinence Diagnosis.)
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