83 Age Related Dysfunctions of the Urinary System

Urinary Incontinence

Urinary incontinence is the involuntary passing of urine through the urethra.  Between 30 and 50% of elderly people suffer from urinary incontinence.  Incontinence is caused by weakening of the urethral sphincters and the muscles of the pelvic floor.


Nocturia is defined as excessive urination at night.  While having to urinate multiple times in the night is not serious in itself it can contribute to insomnia.  Between 60 and 80% of people over the age of 65 experience nocturia.

Benign Hyperplasia

Benign hyperplasia is defined as the enlargement of the prostate gland.  The prostate gland is an organ of the male reproductive system.  When it enlarges the prostate gland puts pressure on the urethra.  Over time the increased pressure on the urethra makes it difficult for the bladder to be fully evacuated.  In sever cases urine can back up into the ureters and interfere with kidney functioning.

Carcinoma of the Prostate

Carcinoma of the prostate is the most common cancer in older men.  Over 50% of men over 70 years of age show signs of prostate cancer.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men. However, some forms of prostate cancer grow very slowly and thus may not ever require treatment. Aggressive forms of prostate cancer, in contrast, involve metastasis to vulnerable organs like the lungs and brain. There is no link between BPH and prostate cancer, but the symptoms are similar. Prostate cancer is detected by a medical history, a blood test, and a rectal exam that allows physicians to palpate the prostate and check for unusual masses. If a mass is detected, the cancer diagnosis is confirmed by biopsy of the cells.


Pyelonephritis is an inflammation of the kidney caused by a bacterial infection or viral infection.  The initial infection may be caused by a urinary tract infection, or travel to the kidney in the blood or lymph.  While the infections are generally easily treatable with antibiotics repeated infections can cause permanent scarring of the kidney tissue.  This affects the kidney function and can cause kidney failure.

Renal Calculi

Renal calculi, also know as kidney stones, become progressively more common with age.  The presence of stones in the kidney do not typically cause problems severe enough to be detected.  However, the passage of renal calculi from the kidney through the ureters, bladder, and urethra can be extremely painful.  Additionally the stones may become lodged in the ureter or cause ulcerations in the lining of the urinary tract.



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