Incontinence Causes, Types & Symptoms
Incontinence is defined as the involuntary loss of bladder or bowel control. It affects over 200 million people worldwide, and is erroneously thought to be a normal part of aging.
Types of Incontinence & Their Symptoms
There are various types of incontinence, which are all characterized by different symptoms. The major forms of incontinence include:
This form of incontinence can occur as a result of being overweight. The extra weight around the midsection puts pressure on the bladder, which makes it difficult to restrain urine from escaping the bladder. You might also experience leakage while laughing, coughing, or sneezing. Stress incontinence is the most common form of incontinence.
Urge Incontinence (Overactive Bladder)
OAB, or urge incontinence is characterized by the constant feeling of having to “go.” Causes of urge incontinence include a weakened pelvis (in women), recent prostate surgery (for men), urinary tract infections, or pre-existing medical conditions, such as stroke, dementia, Spina Bifida, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, or multiple sclerosis.
This condition occurs when the body sends an insufficient signal to the brain for timely response to urinary demands. Symptoms include a delay in sensing urinary urges, or not sensing them at all.
Similar to overflow incontinence in nature and symptoms, though its effects are pronounced through the bowels.
Additional Info on Incontinence Causes, Types & Symptoms
While there are some similarities between female and male incontinence, symptoms and causes can be somewhat different.
Most of those who are affected by incontinence are women. A study conducted at the University of Washington indicates that incontinence affects 28% of women ages 30 to 39, 41% of those ages 40 to 49, and almost half of all women 50 and older.
Weakened pelvic muscles can contribute to incontinence in women, as these muscles are responsible for keeping the urethra closed. This ultimately leads to leakage, and involuntary urination. Another common cause of incontinence among younger women is pregnancy. After childbirth, the combination of hormonal changes, pressure on the bladder, and exertion during childbirth can weaken the pelvic muscle, which can lead to incontinence. Incontinence is also common in women during menopause, when hormonal levels affect the muscles around the pelvis.
To learn more about female incontinence, visit our female incontinence information page.
A study conducted in the UK found that 5% to 7% of men under 64, and 10% to 20% of mean over 64 experience urinary leakage to some degree.
A swollen prostate is a very common cause of incontinence among men. Because the prostate gland surrounds the urethra, any additional size will cause it to squeeze the urethra, and encourage urination. Incontinence can also occur in men immediately after prostate surgery. The muscles can become weakened post surgery, and contribute to involuntary urine leakage.
For more information about male incontinence, visit our male incontinence information page.
Discussing incontinence with a loved one is a difficult task. The condition can affect every aspect of their life, and it is likely that it will affect yours, as well. We care to help you during this period, as we understand the challenges associated with caring for someone with incontinence.
For more information about caring for someone with incontinence, visit our caregiver information page.
Our blog offers the information that you need to be prepared to manage your loved one’s incontinence. Please refer to it as a resource to serve all of your caregiving needs.