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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.