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Incontinence | What's Happening in the Brain

Urine is stored in the bladder until it is emptied by urination (voiding, peeing). The bladder slowly fills, and when it is full, this is sensed by nerves in the bladder. These nerves send signals to other nerves in the spinal cord , which in turn transmit a signal back to muscles in the bladder. This is a reflex arc, meaning that information (e.g. a full bladder), is sensed and a motor activity (e.g. bladder contraction to empty the bladder) results.

Each of us, as babies, had to learn to inhibit this spinal reflex. The process required us first to recognize the need to urinate, and then to learn to control it for long enough to get to a toilet. In Alzheimer's disease , this learning is lost as the disease progresses, due to disruption of the pathways where learning is stored. Relearning is tricky, especially if the incontinence has occurred while the person was being treated for Alzheimer's disease. Just as a person can have urinary incontinence, they can also have bowel incontinence. This is usually a late sign of Alzheimer's disease.



See Also:
About Dementia > Alzheimer's Disease > Memory
Symptom Library > Thinking & Judgment > Comprehension/ Understanding
Symptom Library > Behaviour > Disorientation to Place
About Dementia > Types of Dementia > Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus
About Dementia > Alzheimer's Disease > Natural Progression and Staging
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Last updated August 9, 2017
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