vitamins and minerals

Bladder Control – Symptoms and Types of Urinary Incontinence

Urinary incontinence is not a disease; it is a symptom. It indicates an underlying problem or condition that can and probably should be treated. With urinary incontinence, some experience only occasional minor leaks or drips of urine while others frequently wet their clothes. A thorough evaluation by your doctor can help determine the cause of your incontinence.

Here are the signs and symptoms of different types of urinary incontinence:

  • Stress incontinence. Stress incontinence involves loss of urine when you put pressure or stress on your bladder by coughing, sneezing, laughing, exercising, or lifting something heavy. This condition has nothing to do with psychological stress. It occurs when the sphincter muscle of the bladder is weakened. This is especially noticeable when you allow your bladder to overfill. Stress incontinence is one of the most common types of incontinence, often affecting women. Physical changes resulting from pregnancy, childbirth and menopause can cause this type of incontinence. In men, removal of the prostate can lead to stress incontinence.

  • Urge incontinence. Urge incontinence involves a sudden, intense urge to urinate, followed by involuntary loss of urine. Your bladder muscle contracts and can give you just a few seconds to a minute warning to reach the toilet. With urge incontinence, you may also need to urinate often. The need to urinate can even wake you up several times a night. Some people with urge incontinence have a strong urge to urinate when they hear water running or after drinking only a small amount of liquid. Just moving from sitting to standing can even cause urine to leak. It can be caused by a urinary tract infection or anything that irritates the bladder. It can also be caused by bowel problems or nervous system damage associated with multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, or injury. Urge incontinence is often referred to as an overactive bladder.

  • Overflow incontinence. Overflow incontinence involves frequent or constant dripping of urine caused by an inability to empty your bladder, resulting in an overflow. You may feel like you never completely empty your bladder. When you try to urinate, you may produce only a weak stream of urine. This type of incontinence is common in people with a damaged bladder or blocked urethra and in men with prostate gland problems. Nerve damage caused by diabetes can also lead to overflow incontinence. Certain medications can cause or increase the risk of developing this type of incontinence.

  • Mixed incontinence. If you have symptoms of more than one type of urinary incontinence, such as stress incontinence and urge incontinence, you have mixed incontinence. Usually one type is more prevalent than the other.

  • Functional incontinence. Functional incontinence occurs when a person does not recognize the need to go to the bathroom, does not know where the bathroom is, or does not get to the bathroom in time. The loss of urine can be significant. It is caused by a physical or mental impairment such as confusion, dementia, poor eyesight, reduced mobility, poor dexterity, refusal to go to the bathroom due to depression, anxiety or anger, or being in a situation in which you cannot go to the bathroom. For example, a person with Alzheimer’s disease may not think well enough to plan a timely trip to the bathroom, or a person in a wheelchair may be prevented from getting to the bathroom in time. Such conditions are often associated with age and partly explain the incontinence of elderly women and men in nursing homes.

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