The Different Types of Urinary Incontinence

The Different Types of Urinary Incontinence

While urinary incontinence affects up to 50% of women over 50, most suffer in silence because they assume it’s an inevitable part of aging. But the condition can affect women of all ages and develop from a range of issues.

At any age, urinary incontinence can interfere with normal routines and affect your quality of life. Trying to address symptoms by reducing the amount of water you drink or avoiding activities like exercising can affect other aspects of your health.

The first step in treating urinary incontinence is determining which type of incontinence you have, since that affects the type of treatment you require. 

At The Association for Women’s Health Care, our OB/GYNs understand the impact that urinary incontinence can have on your daily life. Our team of urinary incontinence specialists provides expert diagnosis and evaluation of your condition to determine an appropriate course of treatment.

With an accurate diagnosis, you can pursue the types of treatments that can help control your condition and allow you to live a normal lifestyle. 

Stress incontinence

Stress incontinence occurs when your pelvic floor muscles weaken as a result of childbearing, hormonal changes, obesity, or aging. These weak muscles put additional pressure or stress on the bladder and urethra during certain activities. Leaking can range from a few drops to much more. 

Stress incontinence is the most common variation of incontinence in women. If you have stress incontinence, you might notice urine leakage with laughing, coughing, sneezing, or forms of physical exertion like lifting heavy objects. 

Urge incontinence

Urge incontinence, also known as overactive bladder, occurs when your brain sends faulty messages to your bladder. These messages cause your bladder muscles to contract at the wrong time, creating a strong urge to urinate even when your bladder isn’t full. 

The sensation that urge incontinence causes may feel so intense that you’re unable to hold your urine long enough to get to a bathroom. The condition can interfere with normal activities since it requires that you have constant access to a bathroom.

Urge incontinence can occur as a separate condition, or it may be a symptom of other medical issues or diseases such as infections, diabetes, or neurological damage. 

Mixed incontinence

Mixed incontinence is a combination of stress and urge incontinence. The condition occurs due to causes of both types of incontinence. 

Symptoms of mixed incontinence typically involve involuntary leakage due to urgency as well as sneezing, coughing, or exertion, with the urge component having the greatest impact on daily life. 

Overflow incontinence

Overflow incontinence occurs as a result of weak bladder muscles or a blockage. When your bladder muscles are unable to completely empty your bladder, you retain urine in your bladder and it becomes too full. Involuntary urine leakage results. 

The condition can result from medications, tumors or blockages (such as bladder and kidney stones), diseases, or loss of the sensation that determines bladder fullness.

Functional incontinence

Functional incontinence is when physical limitations prevent you from reaching the toilet in time when you have the urge to urinate. The condition is typically related to cognitive and mobility issues that aren’t associated with the urinary system. 

Immobility, Alzheimer’s disease, and traumatic brain injury are common causes of functional incontinence. 

Treating urinary incontinence

You can get relief from symptoms of urinary incontinence and improve your quality of life with appropriate treatment. Depending on the type of urinary incontinence you experience, you may benefit from one or more of the following treatments: 

With professional diagnosis and appropriate treatment, you can improve symptoms of urinary incontinence and resume a normal lifestyle. Schedule an appointment online or call our Chicago or Northbrook, Illinois, office to arrange a consultation.

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