Urinary incontinence is a condition that is marked by uncontrollable urinary leakage. While it is often associated with older people, anyone can suffer from incontinence, no matter their age.
There are several types of urinary incontinence, and the cause indicates the type. Below, we’ll provide an overview of the most common types of this condition.
What are Types of Urinary Incontinence?
Stress Urinary incontinence
This is the most common form of incontinence. It is not related to the mental stress that a person may be experiencing, but rather the stress – or pressure – that is being placed on the bladder. With this type of incontinence, urine may lead when pressure is placed on the bladder during certain activities, such as jumping, running, lifting heavy weights, coughing, sneezing, or laughing. The most common causes of stress incontinence include pregnancy, childbirth, trauma to the bladder, and obesity.
Also known as overactive bladder, urge incontinence happens when individuals feel the sudden urge to urinate, and that urge is followed by the involuntary loss of small or large amounts of urine, the condition is referred to as urge incontinence. Often people who suffer from this type of incontinence experience an increased need to use the bathroom, and as a result, they may not be able to control their bladder and end up releasing it before they can visit the restroom. Urinary tract infections, pregnancy, childbirth, trauma to the muscles in the pelvic region, menopause, and neurological disease, like multiple sclerosis (MS) and Parkinson’s disease can lead to urge incontinence.
This form of incontinence can occur if a blockage or an obstruction to the bladder occurs; a tumor pressing into the bladder, urinary stones, an enlarged prostate, or constipation, for example. It can also be caused by neurological disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), and Alzheimer’s, or it can be the result of a injury to the pelvic floor muscles or a spinal cord injury. Whatever the cause, with overflow incontinence, the muscles of the bladder do not function properly, and therefore, the bladder cannot be fully emptied, which results in frequent dribbling of urine.
With this condition, the urinary tract is healthy; however, a mental or physical impairment prevents the individual from making it to the restroom in time to urinate, the condition is known as functional incontinence. For example, upon feeling the urge to urinate, a person who is suffering from poor mobility may not be able to get to the restroom in time, and therefore, urine leaks out of the bladder.
Similar to urge incontinence, reflex incontinence occurs when the bladder experiences involuntary spasms, a strong urge to urinate can occur, whether or not the bladder is full. These involuntary spasms can cause the bladder to leak urine before a person is able to make it to the restroom; however, with reflex incontinence, a large amount of urine can lead from the bladder, as opposed to urge incontinence, which is usually marked by a small amount of urine leakage.
More than one type of incontinence can occur at one time, in which case it is referred to as mixed incontinence. Typically, it is characterized by a combination of stress and urge incontinence, which would involve the strong urge to immediately urinate (urge), as well as the urine leakage when engaging in strenuous activity (stress).
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