Why Be Shy About Incontinence

By  ,  National Institute of Health
Jan 19, 2013
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IncontinenceMany people think of incontinence as a shameful secret.  But you shouldn’t suffer in silence if you have incontinence.  You can take action to prevent or manage it.  The first step is to talk with your health care provider.

“Incontinence” means losing control of your bladder or bowel movements.  You may have trouble getting to the toilet in time.  You may leak urine or stool unexpectedly when you sneeze or run.  Some people who have incontinence may avoid social situations, fearing an embarrassing “accident.”

Incontinence can happen to anyone, but it’s most common in women and older people.  It can occur for many reasons, but it’s not caused by aging.  Women who’ve had children are especially at risk for incontinence.  Sometimes other medical conditions, like diabetes or physical injuries, can make you lose control over urinary or bowel muscles and lead to incontinence.  Treating these other conditions may help restore your control.

Many people can prevent incontinence by making simple lifestyle changes.  Your diet, physical activity, weight and smoking behavior all play a role. 

Remember, if you have incontinence, you’re not alone.  For millions of men and women nationwide, incontinence can be treated.  Your doctor can help you find the approach that’s best for you.

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