Urinary incontinence has seven types:
People with stress incontinence involuntarily leak urine while exercising, coughing, sneezing, laughing or lifting. During these activities, sudden pressure to the bladder causes urine to leak. Stress incontinence is the most common type of incontinence among women. It may be due to weakened pelvic muscles, weakening in the wall between the bladder and vagina, or a change in the position of the bladder. In many cases, the condition develops as a result of pregnancy and childbirth. Other causes of stress incontinence include:
A frequent, sudden urge to urinate along with little control of the bladder (especially when sleeping, drinking, or listening to running water) is known as urge incontinence. This condition is also known as spastic bladder, overactive bladder or reflex incontinence. Urge incontinence is marked by a need to urinate more than seven times daily or more than twice nightly. It is most common in older adults. It also may be a symptom of a urinary infection in the bladder or kidneys, or may result from injury, illness or surgery. Among the possible causes are:
People with overflow incontinence cannot completely empty their bladders. A constantly full bladder triggers frequent urination or a constant dribbling of urine, or both. This type of incontinence is often caused by bladder muscles weakened as a result of nerve damage from diabetes or other diseases. It can also occur when the urethra is blocked due to kidney or urinary stones, tumors, an enlarged prostate in men, female bladder surgery that is too tight, or a birth defect.
Functional incontinence is the most common type among older adults with arthritis, Parkinson's disease or Alzheimer's disease. These people are often unable to control their bladder before reaching the bathroom due to limitations in moving, thinking or communicating.
Some people experience two types of incontinence simultaneously, typically stress incontinence and urge incontinence. Mixed incontinence is most commonly found in women. What causes the two forms may or may not be related.
Incontinence is sometimes caused by an anatomic (physical) or neurologic abnormality. An abnormal opening between the bladder and another structure (called a fistula) can cause incontinence, as can a leak in the urinary system.
Loss of normal bladder function may also result from damage to part of the nervous system due to trauma, disease or injury. This dysfunction, called neurogenic bladder, can cause the bladder to be underactive (unable to contract and empty completely) or overactive (contracting too quickly or frequently).
Sometimes incontinence comes and goes with specific conditions or as a side effect of a treatment for other chronic or acute diseases. Temporary incontinence may be caused by:
In addition, some children have nocturnal enuresis (wetting the bed at night). Bed-wetting is normal until the age of 5 years. It is often an inherited disorder with a delay in neurological control of the bladder. Treatment is usually delayed to age 6 and may involve either medication or an alarm device that will awaken the child at the first sign of wetness.