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What causes incontinence?

A: Affecting more than 51% of seniors in America, incontinence is not a disease in and of itself—it’s a symptom of one or more underlying causes. But here’s the most alarming statistic: studies show that on average, women wait an average of 6.5 years before seeking help. That’s a very long time to suffer in silence.rnrn rnrnIf you’re struggling with this condition and afraid to speak up, Dry Depot wants to you to know that you’re not alone! There’s no shame in this very common issue, and talking to your doctor is the first step in reclaiming control of your life. So what causes incontinence? Though only your doctor can tell you for sure exactly what’s at the root of your challenges, this brief discussion may help you gain a deeper understanding of the causes of urinary incontinence, and the different forms it can take—so you can get help right away.rnrn rn

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  • Overactive Bladder (OAB) As many as 33 million Americans suffer from this condition, which is also known as urge incontinence. The most common kind of incontinence, OAB happens when your brain sends mixed signals to the muscles that govern urination. You may feel like you “have to go,” even when the fluid levels in your bladder are low.
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rn rnrnWhat are the causes of urinary incontinence in this form? OAB can be caused by neurological issues such as Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis or stroke; systemic disorders like kidney disease or diabetes; bladder abnormalities such as tumors or bladder stones; acute conditions like enlarged prostate or urinary tract infection and more. Some medications can trigger symptoms of overactive bladder, and excessive consumption of caffeine or alcohol can also contribute.rnrn rn

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  • Stress Incontinence, the second most common form of incontinence, affects millions of women in the United States—including millions of younger women, as well as a percentage of men who undergo prostate surgery. In patients suffering from stress incontinence, the muscles of the pelvic floor have been weakened or damaged, either by childbirth or surgery. When these muscles are compromised (either in men or women), any activity that exerts force on the area, including laughing, heavy lifting or sneezing, can cause leakage.
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  • Overflow Incontinence is more common in men, particularly those with an enlarged prostate; this can impede flow of urine through the urethra and affect bladder emptying. When you are unable to empty your bladder completely during urination, storage space in the bladder decreases. You may experience an overflow—this is what causes incontinence in these cases.
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  • Fecal Incontinence. According to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately 17% of adults 65 and older who are still living at home experience fecal incontinence, or a loss of bowel control. This can be the result of muscle or nerve damage (caused by anything from childbirth to surgery to neurological disorders), constipation, diarrhea, bowel issues like IBS and rectal issues like prolapse.
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  • Functional Incontinence. Finally, a quick discussion of functional incontinence. Even when the bladder functions normally, those living with limited mobility may experience leakage simply because they can’t get to a restroom in time. Causes may include full or partial paralysis, neurological or muscular issues and memory disorders such as Alzheimer’s.
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