The 4 Kinds of Urinary Incontinence

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Incontinence can range from mild leaking of urine, to uncontrollable wetting. There are several different types of urinary incontinence:

Stress Incontinence

Stress incontinence happens when urine leaks during exercise, coughing, sneezing, laughing, lifting heavy objects, or other body movements that put pressure on the bladder.

It may be due to weakened pelvic muscles, but other causes of stress incontinence include:

  • Weakening of muscles that hold the bladder in place, or weakening of the bladder itself
  • Weakening of the urethral sphincter muscles
  • Damage to the nerves controlling the bladder from diseases such as diabetes, stroke, Parkinson's disease and/or multiple sclerosis, or from treatment of gynecologic or pelvic cancers with surgery, radiation or chemotherapy
  • In women, a hormone imbalance or a decrease in estrogen following menopause, which can weaken the sphincter muscle
  • In men, benign prostatic hyperplasia (a noncancerous overgrowth of the prostate gland), prostate cancer or prostate surgery

Urge Incontinence

Urge incontinence happens when people can't hold their urine long enough to get to the toilet in time. Healthy people can have urge incontinence, but it is often found in people who have other health conditions such as:

  • Diabetes
  • Stroke
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Tumors or cancer in the uterus, bladder or prostate
  • Interstitial cystitis (inflamed bladder wall)
  • Prostatitis (inflamed prostate)
  • Prostate removal, cesarean section, hysterectomy, or surgery involving the lower intestine or rectum

This condition is also known as spastic bladder, overactive bladder or reflex incontinence. Urge incontinence is marked by a need to urinate more than seven times daily or more than twice nightly.

Overflow Incontinence

People with overflow incontinence cannot completely empty their bladders. Overflow incontinence happens when small amounts of urine leak from a bladder that is always full. A man can have trouble emptying his bladder if an enlarged prostate is blocking the urethra. Diabetes and spinal cord injury can also cause this type of incontinence.
A constantly full bladder triggers frequent urination or a constant dribbling of urine, or both.

This type of incontinence is often caused by bladder muscles weakened as a result of nerve damage from diabetes or other diseases. It can also occur when the urethra is blocked due to kidney or urinary stones, tumors, an enlarged prostate in men, female bladder surgery that is too tight, or a birth defect.

Functional Incontinence

Functional incontinence happens in many older people who have normal bladder control. They just have a hard time getting to the toilet in time because of arthritis or other disorders that make moving quickly difficult.

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5 Comments

My Dad is 82 and has bowel incontinence. He also had colitis and won't take his medication. We hired a nurse to do his laundry because he won't were depends and craps himself at least 5 times a day. It is realy gross and when we pick up his laundry the running stuff leaks out everywhere. He doesnt think he has a problem but we are all grossed out. I wish all he had was a bladder problem. That would be a little easier to handle. If anyone has any sujestions it would be appreciated.
My mom also has early stage of dementia urge incontinence to make it to the restroom to urine but the strange part is one after the other in less than 15 min. At one second she has to go then she sits abt 45min holding it because of her hip joint problems she's in lots of pain so I wonder if that's why she hesitates to go and to rather wait it out. I am taking her to see a specialty I believe she'll need a hip replacement which is a delicate surgery that's why she waited this long but can no longer take it.
Mom is 84. She had a hysterectomy when she was 29 and she has pretty bad osteoarthritis. It's so frustrating when she has to go to the bathroom so often and never quite makes it. She already wears depends because she got tired of having to change her underwear. She takes Toviaz daily but it doesn't seem to help. She says it makes the situation better. Any suggestions?