Cystic Fibrosis and Urinary Incontinence

A new study shows urinary incontinence is a common but often underreported problem in adolescents with cystic fibrosis. The study suggests doctors need to talk to their patients about this problem.

Urinary incontinence is the inability to hold urine. The problem can have a considerable social and psychological impact on a person. While urinary incontinence is common in healthy women, previous research has shown it is even more common in women with a chronic lung disease such as cystic fibrosis. Researchers from University of Melbourne in Australia conducted a study to determine the prevalence, severity and impact of urinary incontinence in adolescent girls with cystic fibrosis.

Researchers questioned 55 girls age 12 to 19 who came to the Cystic Fibrosis Clinic at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Australia. The study shows half of them report having the problem at least once and about one quarter of the patients say they have urinary incontinence at least twice a month. However, researchers say they found no relationship between urinary incontinence and age, lung function, body mass index, or menstruation. Coughing and laughing were the most commonly reported reasons for incontinence.

Researchers also found one third of the girls say the incontinence had an impact on their social activities. However, nearly half of those affected had not told anyone about the problem and only two of the girls had discussed it with their physician.

Researchers conclude urinary incontinence is common in female adolescents with cystic fibrosis and is not related to illness severity. They say, since most of the girls had not discussed this problem with anyone, doctors need to add a discussion about urinary incontinence to the routine assessment of adolescents with cystic fibrosis.

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