Urinary incontinence is described as a condition when urine leaks out involuntarily. Typically urine leaks out when a person coughs, sneezes, lifts weight, lays stress on the abdominal area.
Usually, in a healthy person, when the bladder is full, it sends a signal to the brain. The person then visits the restroom to urinate. The brain then informs the muscles around the bladder to put pressure on the bladder and the muscles around the prostate to relax so that the urine can flow out of the body.
When does a person not have control over his/her bladder?
- When the communication between the lower abdomen area and brain is not working as expected.
- When there is a blockage in the urinary system
- When the muscles around the bladder have become weak or not working as expected.
Types of incontinence
Stress incontinence is a condition when a little stress on the lower abdomen lets the urine out of the body. The stress can be due to coughing, sneezing, lifting weights and in some cases, even bending forward can leak the urine. Stress incontinence is very common in women than men. The main cause of stress urinary incontinence in men is age but there can be other factors that can also cause this condition including:
- Surgery of any type to the prostate or in the prostate region
- Injury to the spinal cord or injury that damages the nerve connection between brain, spine and the abdominal area
- Injury or surgery to the urinary tract
- Nerve related problems in the person.
The condition when a man feels the ‘urge’ to urinate that occurs all of sudden is called urge incontinence. When he feels the urge, the person may not even have enough time to run to the restroom to urinate. Such an urge can be felt even when the bladder is not even full. Symptoms of urge incontinence in men include:
- The rush or urge to run to the restroom without any kind of prior signal from the brain
- Inability to hold the urine till he reaches the peeing spot
- Urinating during sleep
Causes of urge incontinence include:
- Urinary tract infection or infection to any of the urinary organs
- Inability to empty the bladder completely
- Medical conditions such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s disease.
- Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH – inflammation of the prostate) – any kind of issues with prostate can cause urge incontinence
Overflow incontinence is the condition when the person leaks urine after he thinks he has completely emptied his bladder. This is sometimes called ‘dribbling’.
Symptoms of overflow incontinence include:
- Urine leakage while sleeping
- Urine stream that starts again after stopping
- Dribbling after stopping urinating
- Frequent urination with only small amounts of urine coming out.
Causes of overflow incontinence include:
- Medical conditions such as diabetes or using diuretics can cause increase in urine volume
- Blockage in bladder (such as bladder outlet obstruction) or urethra
- Nerve damage
- Weak muscles around the bladder.
- Surgery to the bowels or in the lower back
Having more than one type of incontinence is termed as mixed incontinence. Typically stress incontinence and urge incontinence make up most of mixed incontinence cases.
Transient incontinence is a temporary condition such as taking medicines that can cause urine to leak out. Causes of transient incontinence include:
Functional incontinence is not really an incontinence problem because, it has nothing to do with the brain communication or the muscles around the bladder but it is a condition when the person is not able to reach the restroom due to physical disability or other medical condition.
Functional incontinence can be seen in people restricted to wheel chairs, suffering from arthritis or some kind of mental problems.