Urinary incontinence is the involuntary loss of urine from the bladder, a condition which affects an estimated 15-20 million Americans1
. It is not considered normal at any adult age. While urinary incontinence tends to be more common in the elderly, it affects men and women in all age groups. Urinary incontinence can be devastating psychologically2
, and may lead to:
- Poor Self-esteem
- Decreased Sexual Activity
- Social Isolation
It has been estimated that only a minority of afflicted people receive proper evaluation and treatment3
. A tremendous number of affected people simply suffer in silence. They are either unaware that something can be done to help them, or they are too embarrassed to talk about it. No doubt about it, urinary incontinence is under-diagnosed and under-treated. Factors contributing to this include:
It Costs All of Us
- Under-reporting by patients
- The perception of urinary incontinence as a trivial problem by healthcare providers
- Inconsistencies and disincentives by insurers and managed-care plans on reimbursement policies
- A mistaken belief that surgical treatment is the only available measure in all cases
Urinary incontinence poses a tremendous cost to individuals and to society as a whole. Conservative estimates of the direct and indirect costs range from $7 billion to $10 billion a year, and are currently most likely higher than that4
. This includes medical expenses as well as items such as absorbent pads, skin-care products, odor-fighting chemicals, and nursing care-charges.References:
1. Snyder JA, Lipsitz DU: Evaluation of female urinary incontinence. Urol Clin N Am 1991;18:197-209
2. Herzog AR, Diokno AC, Fultz NH: Urinary incontinence: Medical and psychosocial aspects. Ann Rev Gerontol Geriatr 1989;9:74-119.
3. Resnick NM, Yalla SV: Evaluation and medical management of urinary incontinence. In Walsh PC, Retik AB, Stamey TA, Vaughan ED, Jr (eds.): Campbell’s Urology. Philadelphia; Saunders:1992, 643-658.
4. Hu TW: Impact of urinary incontinence on health care costs. J Am Geriatr Soc 1990;38:292-295.