What is Incontinence?

What is Urinary Incontinence?

Urinary incontinence is defined as the inability to control the excavation of urine which includes leakage. There are 4 primary types of urinary incontinence which are classified as Overflow Incontinence, Stress Incontinence, Urge Incontinence, and Functional Incontinence. These classifications of urinary incontinence differentiate the cause, organs affected, as well as how urine is leaked. It is not uncommon for urinary incontinence patients to experience multiple classifications of incontinence.

 

Overflow Incontinence

Overflow incontinence occurs when the bladder becomes so full, urine starts to leak uncontrollably. Rather than being unable to urinate, overflow incontinence victims are unable to excrete urine completely. Under normal circumstances, after we urinate, the bladder is emptied and the need to go to the bathroom disappears. Over time, the bladder becomes filled until our brain tells us to go to use the restroom and the cycle continues. There is no cycle with overflow incontinence because the bladder is always full causing urine to continuously drips. Although the damage to the nervous system can cause overflow incontinence, weakened bladder muscles is the typical cause of this type of urinary incontinence.

 

Stress Incontinence

Stress incontinence occurs when an increased amount of pressure on the abdomen causes small leaks of urine. This pressure can result from laughing, coughing, sneezing, or physical activity like exercise. Throughout the day, our body stores urine in our bladder and closed off by pelvic and sphincter muscles. Stress incontinence victims typically have weakened pelvic or sphincter muscles that will cause a leak if there is added pressure. Think of a drink canister covered with cap and suction ring. Whether we walk or run, the cap and suction prevents the drink from spilling out. If the same canister’s suction is worn down and cracked, the drink would spill when we run even if there is no spillage while walking. The suction is like the sphincter muscles. Under normal conditions, even if we do strenuous exercise, the urine will not spill from the bladder because of the pelvic muscles. However, if the sphincter muscles are weakened, although it will prevent urine spilling from the bladder, there will be leakage if there is a sudden added pressure to the region. Women are more vulnerable to stress incontinence because childbirth and menstruation can cause the pelvic muscle region to weaken.

 

Urge Incontinence

Urge incontinence occurs when an individual feels a strong need to urinate unexpectedly. Urge incontinence is different from the normal message our brain gets when the bladder becomes full because urge incontinence can trigger the brain to urinate even if the bladder is not full. For this reason, urge incontinence is also referred to as an overactive bladder. Urge incontinence is typically associated with damage to the nervous system since the need to urinate is not being communicated correctly in the body. For instance, seeing, hearing, or drinking a little water can trigger the need to urinate in victims of urge incontinence.

 

Functional Incontinence

Functional incontinence occurs when a person does not realize he needs to use the restroom and wets himself. There are varying degrees of functional incontinence. On one end, an individual feels the need but is not able to reach the toilet in time. On the other, an individual will not feel the need to use the bathroom and simply urinate wherever he may be. Under normal conditions, our mind tells us to go to the restroom when the bladder becomes full. Functional incontinence victims either do not process the need to use the bathroom or do not process it in time. As a result, the bladder empties regardless of whether the person is ready or not and will continue to empty until the bladder is empty. Since the bladder muscles naturally excrete urine until it empties, urine loss can be quite huge in functional incontinence cases. The elderly are more susceptible to functional incontinence since the cause is primarily linked to normal aging of the body.

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Dr. Whitaker Prostate Health