What Are The Different Types of Incontinence?

March 1, 2021

In short, incontinence is the loss of bladder control. For many, it can feel like an embarrassing topic to talk about and it can be brought on by a variety of factors, or sometimes, from nothing at all. There are a few different types of urinary incontinence and it’s important that you understand which kind you might be experiencing in order to manage and treat it successfully.

What are the 4 main types of incontinence?

STRESS INCONTINENCE

Stress urinary incontinence (SUI) occurs when you exert pressure on your bladder by coughing, sneezing, laughing, working out or lifting something heavy and, as a result, you experience leakage.

SUI is the most common kind of leakage experienced by women and occurs when pelvic muscles - which support the bladder and urethra - grow weaker over time and allow the neck of the bladder to descend during physical activity. This kind of weakness usually stems from pregnancy, childbirth, aging, exercise or prior pelvic surgery. Other risk factors for SUI include chronic coughing, straining, obesity and smoking.

URGE INCONTINENCE

Urge incontinence occurs when you might be doing your thing, minding your own business, and suddenly you have to go badly. With urge incontinence, the urinary bladder contracts when it shouldn’t, which causes some urine to leak through the sphincter muscles, which hold the bladder closed.

Potential causes for women developing urge incontinence can include:

  • Bladder infection

  • Bladder inflammation

  • Bladder stones,

  • Bladder cancer

  • Diseases or injuries to the nervous system

Symptoms to watch out for (in addition to suddenly having to pee out of nowhere) include pelvic pain, burning or pain when you pee or symptoms that go on for several days.

MIXED INCONTINENCE

If you can’t pinpoint what kind of incontinence you have, you might be experiencing a mix. Mixed incontinence is generally a combination of stress and urge incontinence as its symptoms overlap. You could be leaking if you sneeze, cough, laugh or workout (SUI), fused with the need to suddenly go ASAP, (the typical characteristics of urge incontinence).

OVERFLOW INCONTINENCE

You know that feeling when you think you just peed, but then you realize that you actually didn’t get it all out? Overflow incontinence is when your bladder doesn’t empty all the way when you pee and small amounts of remaining urine leak out later because your bladder got too full.

You may not even feel the need to pee before this kind of leak happens. This type of incontinence is also known as “dribbling.”

Besides dealing with the leak itself, other symptoms of overflow incontinence are:

  • Having trouble starting to pee and then having a weak stream once it starts

  • Getting up constantly during the night to pee

  • Having frequent urinary tract infections

Most overflow incontinence occurs in older adults and women, and higher risk levels include those who experience bladder stones or tumors, conditions that affect the nerves, like multiple sclerosis (MS), diabetes or brain injuries, previous pelvic surgery and certain medications.

Are you experiencing incontinence?

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