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Urinary Incontinence & Its Types

November 15, 2019 | Abigail Mckay

Topics, like urinary incontinence, are uncomfortable to discuss, but to ensure that this matter is appropriately addressed, it is essential to have an honest conversation with your doctor. A leaky bladder can be emotionally and physically draining to manage on a daily basis. The leaky bladder, also known as urinary incontinence, which is defined as a lack of bladder control, can affect both the young and the old. For example, after pregnancy, many women struggle with leaky bladder due to a lack of muscle tone post-delivery. This is often a correctable issue with the assistance of physical therapy. The lack of control can range from a slight leak to a full release of the bladder. There are multiple types of incontinence, which include stress, overactive, overflow, and functional.  


Stress Incontinence 

Stress incontinence is probably different than what you initially assume in that it does not have anything to do with emotional stress. Instead, stress incontinence is caused by a strain placed on the bladder from intra-abdominal pressure. For example, when you run, sneeze, or laugh, the intra-abdominal pressure increases, which puts extra load on the bladder. This can cause some urine to leak out. While this type does not typically cause a complete emptying of the bladder, it can occur in severe cases. Causes of this type of incontinence include age, postpartum, abdominal surgery, and varying lung-conditions that cause coughing. Stress incontinence can generally be corrected by strengthening the pelvic floor and abdominal muscles. However, age can also cause irreversible loss of muscle strength in that area. 


Overactive Bladder and Overflow Incontinence

Also known as urge incontinence, this type of leaky bladder is caused by an injury to the brain, spine, or nerves connecting the brain to the bladder. This injury can come from a physical injury like a car accident or a physiological issue, such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis, or Parkinson’s disease. The characteristics of overactive bladder include urgency and frequency even when the bladder is not full, which can be debilitating for work and home life. There is a possibility to have both overactive bladder and stress incontinence, which makes it challenging to treat. Overflow incontinence can also occur due to a physiological abnormality, such as an enlarged prostate. Essentially, with this type of incontinence, the bladder never truly empties due to something blocking the normal flow of urine. This can cause the feeling of a constant need to urinate. 

Treatment of Urinary Incontinence


While there are quite a few types of incontinence, it is vital to speak with a physician if you are having any of the mentioned symptoms. Urinary incontinence can be embarrassing and cause unneeded stress if not treated promptly and correctly. The best step towards determining treatment options is to schedule an appointment with a physician. They will be able to determine the cause and develop a treatment plan that targets the underlying condition. To find out the available treatments for urinary incontinence, stay tuned tomorrow for further information.