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Women with Urge Incontinence
Have an Increased Risk of Falling

By Jennifer B. Buckley

Older women with urge incontinence may be more likely to fall and fracture a bone compared to women who are not urge incontinent, according to a new study. Although slip and falls are common health concerns for older women, their risk of falling increases if they also have urge incontinence.

The study conducted by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco discovered, women who feel a strong need to urinate and have urine leakage before getting to the bathroom, increase their risk of falling by 26% and their risk of fracturing a bone by 34%. Researchers studied more than 6,000 women aged 72 and older, with frequent urinary incontinence. The study was published in the July issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Urge incontinence is a common condition for older women occurring in up to 40% of women over the age of 60. Falls are also a frequent problem in the elderly population. In fact, falls affect one out of three people ages 65 and older each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. They rate as the most widely seen cause of injuries and hospital admissions for trauma. In addition, falling and fracturing a bone can change someoneís life forever. About half of older adults who are hospitalized with a hip fracture, are unable to live independently again.

A person with urge incontinence may feel an overwhelming compulsion to empty their bladder, if it contains urine. This increases the likelihood of someone rushing and then tripping on her way to the bathroom. It can be an especially dangerous situation during the night, if there arenít any lights illuminating the way. A person canít avoid tripping over something they canít see. In fact, six out of ten fatal falls happen to older people in the safety of their home.

The findings suggest that identification and treatment of urge incontinence may actively prevent the risk of falls and fractures. Often times, women neglect to speak with physicians about the problem of incontinence and therefore, may not seek treatment, because they are too embarrassed. Some invasive, new treatments for urinary incontinence include: biofeedback, FemSoft Inserts, Neocontrol, tension-free transvaginal tape(TVT) and the prescription medication, Ditropan.

Perhaps the conclusion of this recent study will prompt women, neglecting to communicate with their doctors about their incontinence, to speak up and in turn, receive one of the many treatment options available. Based on the study, women with incontinence may have more to fear then public embarrassment; they could potentially fracture a bone, putting them in an even more precarious situation.

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