Urinary Incontinence 

Urinary incontinence, lack of bladder control, is a very common problem affecting millions. The severity varies from a little leakage when sneezing or coughing to inability to stop urination at all. The condition is more prevalent among women and older adults, but can occur with men and younger people. There are many solutions, so one need not suffer the inconvenience and embarrassment often caused by urinary incontinence.

What causes it?

Urinary incontinence is caused when the muscles around the urethra and bladder are weakened. It is not a disease, but symptom of another condition. An examination by your doctor can determine the cause. Some of the most common causes are:

  • Excessive consumption of alcohol, water, caffeine or foods and beverages high in spice, sugar or acid
  • Medications (heart, blood pressure, sedatives and muscle relaxants)
  • Constipation
  • Excessive weight
  • Nerve damage
  • Pregnancy/childbirth
  • Menopause/hysterectomy
  • Changes with aging
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Painful bladder syndrome
  • Prostatitis
  • Enlarged prostate
  • Prostate cancer
  • Bladder cancer
  • Neurological disorders (multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, brain tumor, spinal injury, Alzheimer's disease)

Are there different types?

There are several types of urinary incontinence categorized by severity and frequency.

Urinary Incontinence; Lexington Clinic Urology

Stress incontinence

This occurs when pressure is put on the bladder by sneezing, coughing, exercising, laughing or lifting. This is most common in women, but can be caused in men by removing the prostate gland.

Urge incontinence

Often called "overactive bladder," this occurs when there is a sudden urge to urinate, giving you only a few seconds to get to a restroom. This type occurs most in elderly people.

Overflow incontinence

This occurs when the bladder doesn't empty completely and there is leakage of small amounts of urine from the overfilled bladder. This is most common in men due to blockages.

Functional incontinence

This occurs when a physical or mental impairment keeps someone from getting to the restroom in time. This is common among older individuals and those in nursing homes.

Transient incontinence

This occurs only for a short time when an illness causes temporary leakage. This is common during pregnancy and bladder infections.

Total incontinence

This occurs when there is continuous leakage of urine and uncontrollable leaking of large amounts of urine.

Mixed incontinence

This occurs when an individual experiences more than one of the above conditions at the same time.

What can I do?

Despite the fact that this may be an uncomfortable conversation, if you experience any of these symptoms and it is affecting your quality of life, you should speak with your doctor. When you go to your appointment, be prepared with the following information.

  • How often do you empty your bladder?
  • Do you smoke, drink alcohol or consume products that are spicy, acidic or contain sugar and/or caffeine? How often?
  • When did you first experience symptoms?
  • How much and when do you leak urine?
  • Are you experiencing any life or medical changes that could cause the symptoms?
  • What medication are you taking?

You may want to ask your doctor the following questions.

  • What is the most likely cause of my symptoms?
  • What kinds of tests do I need?
  • Is this a temporary condition?
  • What treatments do you recommend, are there alternatives?
  • Should I have any dietary restrictions?

He or she will help you determine the type of incontinence you are experiencing, the cause and prescribe the least invasive treatments. Possible treatments are listed below.

  • Behavioral techniques
  • Physical therapy
  • Medications
  • Protective garments
  • Medical devices
  • Intervention therapies
  • Surgery
  • Catheterization

With your physician, you can determine a course of action that will help solve or manage your urinary incontinence.