Types of Urinary Incontinence

Urinary incontinence affects people differently. For example, the severity of the problem can range from slight urine leakage to a complete loss of bladder control. There are also different types of urinary incontinence. Understanding the type of incontinence you have can help you and your doctor develop the most effective treatment plan.

Stress Incontinence: Stress incontinence is one of the most common types of incontinence, especially among women. When pressure is placed on the bladder, it can cause urine leakage. For example, coughing, sneezing and even laughing hard can put pressure on the bladder and cause a leak. Stress incontinence is common after giving birth possibly due to damaged or stretched nerves and muscles of the pelvic floor. Although it can vary, often only a small amount of urine leaks.  

Urge Incontinence: Urge incontinence, which is also called an overactive bladder, is just what it sounds like. You feel a sudden urge to use the bathroom and in many cases, may lose bladder control before reaching the restroom. In some instances, you may feel an urge even if your bladder is not full. An overactive bladder can occur when the bladder muscle starts to contract and sends a signal to the body to urinate even if the bladder is not full. The condition can develop due to a variety of reasons including neurological damage and bladder infections. In men, it can also occur due to an enlarged prostate. Various treatments are available for urge incontinence including medication and bladder training.

Mixed Incontinence: Mixed incontinence is a combination of different types of incontinence. In most cases, people who have mixed incontinence have both urge and stress incontinence. 

Overflow Incontinence: Overflow incontinence occurs when urine leaks out from a full bladder. A person with overflow incontinence may or may not feel the urge to urinate. The condition can develop due to an obstruction that blocks the normal flow of urine from the bladder. For example, problems, such as an enlarged prostate can lead to overflow incontinence. Side effects from certain medication can also lead to the condition. Treatment may depend on the cause. If the condition is due to a blockage, surgery may be needed.

Functional Incontinence: Functional incontinence is different from other types of incontinence. The problem is not with the bladder. Urine leakage occurs because the person cannot make it to the bathroom in time. It typically occurs in people who have limited mobility, such as those in a wheelchair or with a decline in cognitive function. Treatment involves the use of a bedside commode or easier access to the bathroom. Incontinence products can also be helpful.