There are different types and causes of urinary incontinence. In some cases, the cause is unknown. It may result because of a very simple reason, such as too much caffeine intake, and thus only be a temporary concern. However, urinary incontinence may be persistent and caused by more complex reasons, such as cancer or a neurological disorder. Below are some common types of incontinence and their causes.
With stress incontinence, urine is involuntarily lost after a pressure-related physical activity, such as sneezing, laughing, coughing, lifting heavy objects, standing up, or exercising. Stress incontinence results when there is a problem with the pelvic floor muscles, sphincter, or both. It is more likely to occur when the bladder is full. Stress incontinence occurs more frequently in women than in men.
Urge incontinence is the sudden urgent need to urinate, followed by involuntary urine leakage . It occurs when the bladder muscles contract at the wrong times, regardless of if the bladder is full or not. In many cases, the exact cause of urge incontinence is unknown. It can result from bladder infections, inflammation, stones, or cancer, and spinal cord injury, stroke, or an enlarged prostate gland in men. Urge incontinence occurs more frequently in women and older adults.
Overactive Bladder- “Irritable Bladder”
Overactive bladder causes an extreme sudden urgent need to urinate, frequent urination, and the need to wake and urinate at night (nocturia). It may be accompanied by urge incontinence, known as “overactive bladder, wet.” About two thirds of people with overactive bladder do not experience urge incontinence, which is termed “overactive bladder, dry.”
Overactive bladder occurs when the bladder wall muscles contract before the bladder is completely full. The muscle wall contraction signals the brain that it is “time to go to the bathroom,” although the bladder is only partially full. In many cases, the cause of overactive bladder is not known. It may develop in people with Parkinson’s disease, strokes, or other neurological disorders. Urinary tract infections, structural abnormalities, inflammation, bladder stones, enlarged prostate in men, diabetes, excess alcohol or caffeine intake, and certain medications can contribute to overactive bladder, as well.
Overactive bladder occurs most frequently in men over the age of 65 or women in their mid-40s. It is fairly common in the United States, affecting about one in six people.
With overflow incontinence, the bladder has difficulty emptying completely. This leads to persistent urine dribbling and a weak stream of urine when you go to the bathroom. Overflow incontinence can be caused by a blocked urethra, injured bladder, prostate gland conditions in men, certain medications, and nerve damage associated with diabetes.
Some people may have more than one type of urinary incontinence. When this occurs, it is termed mixed incontinence.
Functional incontinence occurs because of a physical or thought processing problem that prevents a person from getting to the bathroom in time. For example, people with Alzheimer’s disease may fail to plan to go to the bathroom, or people with physical limitations may not allow enough time to get to the bathroom.
Gross Total Incontinence
Gross total incontinence is the inability to hold any urine at all in the bladder at any time. This can happen to people that sustain a spinal cord injury or urinary tract injury. Some people are born with a structural abnormality such as an abnormal opening (fistula) near the urethra which can contribute to gross total incontinence.