Understanding the Different Types of Incontinence

Reluctance to laugh too hard when a friend tells a joke. Saying no to certain activities because you know there won’t be a restroom nearby. Sound familiar?

You shouldn’t have to plan your life around urinary incontinence. It can be an embarrassing medical problem, but it’s hardly rare. Up to a third of Americans are living with urinary incontinence.

Involuntary urine leakage can make you feel like you’ve lost control, but treatment can empower you to live more confidently. Don’t ignore your symptoms — instead, talk to the capable team at Advanced Urology in Culver City, Los Angeles, and Redondo Beach, California. We specialize in diagnosing and treating all the most common types of incontinence.

Understanding the causes of incontinence

It’s not uncommon to experience accidental urine leakage from time to time. Whether you had a lot of coffee and couldn’t quite reach the toilet in time or you have a urinary tract infection (UTI), incontinence may be an acute issue.

But for many people, urinary incontinence is a daily struggle. Chronic incontinence means that your symptoms don’t resolve in a day or a week. When you have long-term incontinence, it’s usually linked to other health conditions — or simply to getting older.

Muscles throughout your body naturally weaken with age, and weak bladder muscles are a common cause of incontinence in older people. While prostate problems can cause incontinence in men, women are more likely to suffer urinary incontinence than men, particularly after menopause.

Changing hormone levels, coupled with a history of pregnancy and childbirth, can weaken the pelvic floor muscles and trigger incontinence symptoms. According to the Urology Care Foundation, it’s unclear how many people experience incontinence because many people don’t report it. 

In other cases, incontinence is a symptom of another health condition. Neurological conditions like Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis can interfere with urinary function, while cognitive diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia can also cause it.

Identifying the most common types of incontinence

Incontinence is defined as involuntary urine leakage, whether it’s a little or a lot. But the type of incontinence you have depends on the symptoms you experience.

Stress incontinence

Stress incontinence is common in people with weak pelvic floor muscles, because the bladder and other organs aren’t adequately supported. Laughing, coughing, sneezing, and other activities increase stress on your pelvic floor. If you have stress incontinence, these activities can trigger accidental urine leakage.

Urge incontinence

Urge incontinence is also called overactive bladder (OAB). If you have OAB, you feel frequent or sudden urges to urinate. People with OAB may experience leakage if they can’t get to the toilet fast enough when the urge hits.

Overflow incontinence

If you can’t completely empty your bladder when you urinate, you could have overflow incontinence. This type of incontinence is particularly common in men, and it can cause constant dribbling. Overflow incontinence can make you feel like you need to urinate frequently, even if you don’t lose a lot of urine.

Functional incontinence

Functional incontinence is most commonly related to preexisting health conditions. If you have functional incontinence, your urinary system works well, but mental or physical impairment keeps you from reaching the toilet in time to urinate.

Mixed incontinence

None of the above symptoms sound quite right? You could have mixed incontinence, which is a combination of more than one type of urinary incontinence. Many people find that having one type of incontinence causes other types — for example, having overflow incontinence increases the risk of sudden stress incontinence.  

No matter what type of incontinence you have, our team is here to help. You don’t have to be embarrassed to discuss your symptoms with your doctor. We offer a range of treatment options for women and men who are living with incontinence, and we partner with you to find a solution that works for your body.

Treatment is available for urinary incontinence and its symptoms. Contact our team at Advanced Urology to learn more about your options and schedule an appointment.

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