Urinary incontinence affects people of all ages and genders. There’s a common misconception that urinary incontinence only affects the elderly, but that’s not true. It’s a condition that has many causes and displays different symptoms depending on the cause. Read on to learn about the types of urinary incontinence, the risk factors associated with each type, and urinary incontinence treatment.
Urge Incontinence (Overactive Bladder)
Do you feel the urge to urinate even if your bladder is not full? You might be suffering from urge incontinence. It is a condition that affects both men and women, and it’s characterized by an unrelenting urge to urinate immediately. A loss of urine then follows this feeling before reaching a bathroom. Unfortunately, even if you never end up passing urine before going to the bathroom, urge incontinence can interfere with your work and social life.
With urge incontinence, the detrusor muscle will start contracting and signaling the need to urinate even if the bladder is not full. As such, this condition is also known as detrusor overactivity. Urge incontinence can result from physical issues that interfere with your body’s ability to stop involuntary bladder muscle contractions. For instance, it can be caused by damage to the brain, spinal cord, or branches of certain nerves resulting from physical accidents, neurological diseases, or conditions like diabetes. Apart from these causes, it can also occur due to irritating substances within the bladder, like those released during infection.
In most instances, doctors will not pinpoint the exact cause of urge incontinence, which can make it difficult to carry out proper urinary incontinence treatment. However, the condition is quite common when people age. You will also find that post-menopausal women are highly likely to suffer from it, probably due to age-related changes in the detrusor muscle.
Other conditions cause temporary urge incontinence. These include infections of the urinary tract, bladder, or prostate. It can also result from a partial blockage of the urinary tract by bladder stones, tumors, or an enlarged prostate. This means urinary incontinence treatment will be different depending on what’s causing the condition.
Reflex Urinary Incontinence
Reflex incontinence is one of the less common types of urinary incontinence that occurs when the bladder muscles contract suddenly and urine leaks out without any warning. However, unlike functional incontinence, where urine leaks out in small amounts, reflex incontinence causes large amounts of urine loss. The condition can be caused by damage to the nerves that normally send signals to the brain when the bladder is full. Reflex incontinence often affects people with serious neurological impairment resulting from injuries to the spinal cord, damage from surgery, or even multiple sclerosis. Therefore, with this condition, urinary incontinence treatment will often involve addressing the root cause of the problem.
Functional Urinary Incontinence
Sometimes you can experience urinary incontinence even if your urinary tract is not damaged in any way. This can occur if other conditions affect your ability to hold in urine. For instance, because of severe illness, you can become unaware or unconcerned about the need to visit the toilet when it’s time to urinate. Apart from that, your awareness of the need to find a toilet can be diminished by conditions like dementia or by certain types of medication. All of these causes lead to functional incontinence.
Functional incontinence can affect anyone having difficulties finding a toilet or undressing in time. This means it can occur when someone is restrained or when the toilet is just too far away, and you can reach it soon enough. You will also find that certain medications, like the diuretics used to treat high blood pressure, can cause you to produce abnormally large amounts of urine. This can also lead to functional incontinence. Unfortunately, if urine is mainly produced at night, you could end up suffering from nocturnal incontinence or bedwetting.
Stress Urinary Incontinence
One of the most obvious indicators of stress incontinence is that urine leaks out if you jump, cough, or laugh. The condition causes the leakage of urine when abdominal pressure increases. It’s important to note that it’s common to think that there are emotions involved because of how the condition is named. However, that’s not the case at all. Instead, the term stress used to describe this condition refers to the physical strain linked to the leakage.
This is one of the most common types of incontinence, and in most instances, only small amounts of urine will leak out. As the condition gets worse, even the pressure of a full bladder can end up overcoming your ability to hold in urine. This means the leakage will occur even if there’s no contraction of bladder muscles. There are two main types of incontinence under this class. While both types of incontinence are linked to the weakening or damage to the urethral sphincter and the pelvic floor muscles, there are several differences between them.
In one of the subtypes of stress incontinence known as urethral hypermobility, the bladder will shift downward as abdominal pressure rises. Under normal circumstances, the urethra will support the bladder by pressing against it. However, with this condition, this hammock-type support will be absent, and therefore the bladder will have nothing to keep it closed.
Intrinsic Sphincter Deficiency
The second subtype of stress incontinence is known as intrinsic sphincter deficiency. With this condition, problems in the urinary sphincter will either stop it from closing fully or pop open when there is an increase in pressure.
Several factors can increase the risk of stress incontinence in women, including difficult childbirth, age, and hormonal imbalances. On the other hand, in men, the most common cause of stress incontinence is damage to the urinary sphincter damage during prostate surgery or pelvic fractures. Lastly, in both men and women, this condition can occur as a result of lung conditions that cause frequent coughing, like emphysema and cystic fibrosis.
Overflow Urinary Incontinence
Overflow incontinence results from a blockage that inhibits the normal flow of urine from the bladder. As a result, your bladder ends retaining amounts of urine each time you go to the toilet. This usually occurs when there is an enlargement of the prostate that partially closes off the urethra.
Overflow incontinence can occur in both men and women if the bladder muscles become underactive. People affected by this condition might not feel the urge to urinate. As a result, the bladder becomes overfilled and distended. The urethra opening will be pulled when this happens, and urine starts leaking out. It’s worth noting that when the bladder is full, it can spasm at random times, causing leakage. This usually occurs in individuals with diabetes or cardiovascular disease.
Because this condition has some linkage to prostate conditions, it’s more common in men. Besides prostate conditions, overflow incontinence can also be caused by tumors, bladder stones, or scar tissue. On the other hand, in women who experience severe prolapse of the uterus or bladder, the urethra can become kinked, which can interfere with the flow of urine and cause the same condition.
Urinary Incontinence With Mixed Causes
It’s not uncommon to display symptoms of both overactive bladder and stress incontinence. In such cases, you will likely have both types simultaneously. Statistics show that the majority of women with urinary incontinence have both stress and urge symptoms. This can create a problematic situation. Mixed incontinence also occurs in frail older people of either gender.
Urinary incontinence is a common problem that affects people of all genders and ages. Have you suffered from urinary incontinence before? No matter the cause, this condition can be challenging to deal with. If you or your loved one is displaying symptoms of a type of urinary incontinence, get in touch with us today to schedule an appointment and get the assistance you need.