The loss of bladder or bowel control, also known as incontinence, is a prevalent issue that occurs in men and women of all ages. There are many different types of incontinence, and knowing what type you or your loved one is experiencing is the first step to addressing the issue.
The following are the main types of incontinence and their accompanying symptoms:
Individuals with urge incontinence frequently have sudden, strong urges to urinate that cannot be contained long enough to get to the bathroom. Risk factors include aging, prostate enlargement and diabetes. Urge incontinence may cause heavy leaks that can be contained with the help of an adult pull up or diaper.
Stress incontinence causes a person to dribble when there is physical stress on the bladder, such as sneezing, coughing, laughing or lifting heavy objects. This type of incontinence is common among women of all ages and is often caused by pregnancy, childbirth, obesity, prostate surgery or menopause. Stress incontinence can often be managed with a bladder control pad or other liners designed for incontinence.
People with mixed incontinence experience a combination of urge and stress incontinence. This type of incontinence is most common among older females, and has the same causes as stress and urge incontinence.
When an individual’s bladder never empties completely, it can cause a frequent or constant dribble known as overflow incontinence. Overflow incontinence may be caused by some medications, diabetes, bladder injury, urethra blockages and other issues. Besides the issue of leakage, this type of incontinence may also lead to urinary tract infections since the urine left in the bladder becomes a breeding ground for bacteria. Overflow incontinence can be managed with the help of high absorbency pads or light absorbency underwear.
Unlike most types of incontinence, transient incontinence is temporary and goes away once the cause is treated. Transient incontinence is often caused by illness or surgery, and is also known as acute, reversible or temporary incontinence.
The loss of control of the bowel is called fecal incontinence (also known as bowel incontinence), and can range from occasional leaks of stool while passing gas to a complete lack of control over bowel movements. Constipation, diarrhea and muscle or nerve damage associated with aging or childbirth are common causes of fecal incontinence. The use of adult diapers is recommended for individuals with significant bowel leaks.
Functional incontinence is not a true form of incontinence; rather, it is caused by weakness or disability. Individuals with functional incontinence are able to control their urge to urinate but are physically or mentally unable to get to the bathroom themselves. Other possible causes include pain with movement, arthritis or medications.
Disclaimer: No information presented on this website or in this guide about the types of incontinence is medical advice or intended as a substitute for the advice of a physician. All information on this website concerning medical conditions is from publicly available sources.