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Updated: 4/11/2007 2:49 pm
Urinary incontinence (in-CON-tin-ince), or the involuntary loss of bladder control, affects many people, but because it's an embarrassing condition to discuss with a physician, many never seek treatment. This is unfortunate, because treatment can cure or improve at least 80 percent of all cases. Incontinence is generally divided into three categories or types. Stress incontinence, the most common type, involves leakage of urine during physical acts like lifting, exercising, sneezing, and coughing, which place sudden pressure on the bladder. It generally results when the ligaments and muscles that direct the flow of urine have been weakened by childbirth or aging and can't resist extra abdominal pressure. Urge incontinence occurs when a muscle spasm causes the sudden loss of a large amount of urine. If you suffer from this condition, you may find it impossible to hold urine in once the urge to urinate begins. Overflow incontinence refers to a frequent leakage from a full bladder that never completely empties. It's caused by nerve damage, drug side effects, an over-stretched bladder, or an obstructed urinary tract. Depending on your age, preference, and medical condition, your doctor may recommend any one of several treatments, including absorbent undergarments, muscle exercises, biofeedback, electrical stimulation, behavioral therapy, catheters, drug therapy, or surgery. For more information about causes and treatment options, contact a physician.

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