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Urinary Incontinence: What’s Your Type?

September 02, 2012 2 min read

Urinary incontinence is the inability to control one’s bladder emptying. This common, yet treatable, condition affects about 25 million American adults and 200 million adults worldwide. While the pain and embarrassment of incontinence is similar, the cause and type can differ greatly. Read below to find out what type of incontinence you may have.

  1. Stress Incontinence – “It happens only when I’m physical.”

Are you experiencing bladder leakage when lifting weights? How about when you sneeze, cough, or laugh? If yes to any, then you may have stress incontinence which occurs when pressure is applied to the abdomen

Causes: weak pelvic floor muscles, damaged urethral sphincter, childbirth, menopause, prostate surgery

What to use: kegel exercises, vaginal weights, bladder control pads, guards for men

   2. Urge Incontinence or Overactive Bladder (OAB) – “Please, not now!”

You’re at a midnight premiere of a movie you’ve been dying to see. You’re settled into your seat with your popcorn in hand. As soon as the movie starts, you get this sudden urge to urinate. You think you can hold it but you just HAVE to go.

You may be experiencing urge incontinence, where a leakage may occur even before you get a chance to reach the bathroom. If you have the urge to urinate more than 7 times a day or more than twice during sleep, you may have an overactive bladder.

Causes: overactive bladder, infections, emotional disorders, disease

What to use: vibrating reminder watches, timed voiding schedule, washable underwear

  3. Overflow Incontinence – “But I just went!”

You’re always using the bathroom; you feel like your bladder is never empty; and when you do urinate, it’s only a trickle.

Causes: weak bladder muscles, disease, nerve damage, an enlarged prostate (BPH)

What to use: incontinence pads or guards for men

  4. Functional Incontinence – “I can’t get to the bathroom by myself.”

Although your bladder is working just fine, you may have functional incontinence if you cannot walk to the bathroom in time due to a physical or mental disability.

Causes: lack of mobility, arthritis, mental conditions (e.g. Alzheimer’s or dementia)

What to use: adult diapers or pull-on disposable underwear

  5. Temporary Incontinence – “It just comes and goes.”

Sometimes incontinence just comes and goes depending on certain medications or with specific conditions.

Causes: urinary tract infections, constipation, drugs, surgery, certain foods or drinks

What to use: incontinence pads or guards for men; change in diet

  6. Mixed Incontinence – “Can I have more than one type?”

It is not uncommon to suffer from more than one type of incontinence. Mixed incontinence is a combination of stress and urge incontinence. Women are more likely to experience this type of condition.

Remember to tell your doctor if you are experiencing any bladder control problems, as they may be a sign of a more serious condition. Your doctor should be able to provide you the most effective treatment for your condition.


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