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5 Types of Urinary Incontinence

Urinary incontinence is a severe condition that causes the loss of bladder control, potentially disrupting your daily activities. According to the CDC, millions of adults experience urinary incontinence, which can cause frequent urination or bladder leakage between bathroom visits. Incontinence is most common in middle-aged and older adults, especially women who have given birth. That said, incontinence isn't a normal part of aging and often points to an underlying condition, such as a neurological disorder or damage to the pelvic floor muscles. 

Losing the ability to control urination can be embarrassing and incredibly stressful. Many people with incontinence hide their symptoms, exposing them to risks such as skin infections, rashes, and urinary tract infections. Others struggle with temporary incontinence and may miss important signs of underlying medical conditions. Luckily, incontinence does not have to negatively impact the quality of your life and limit your social interactions. This article looks at 5 prevalent types of incontinence and treatment options that can help manage or cure the disorder.

Stress Incontinence

Stress incontinence is one of the most common types of urinary incontinence that occurs due to physical exertion. People with this disorder experience leakages when their body movements cause pressure on the abdominal muscles and bladder. Those with stress incontinence often experience a small drip of urine when undertaking activities such as coughing or laughing. During strenuous tasks, the dribble can become an embarrassing urine stream.

This type of urinary incontinence is common in women who have undergone pregnancy and childbirth, as these events can weaken the urethra and pelvic floor muscles. However, the disorder can also occur in people who have undergone surgery on their uterus, prostate, or other pelvic organs. Other factors linked to the condition include chronic coughing, constipation, diabetes, and obesity.

Treatment options that may help manage or even cure stress incontinence include:

  • Limit caffeinated drinks: Reducing the intake of caffeinated beverages such as coffee and tea can help reduce the rate at which your kidneys produce urine, reducing the urgency to pass urine.
  • Empty your bladder regularly: To prevent small leaks during activities such as coughing and laughing, visit the bathroom even when you don't feel the urge to urinate.
  • Do daily Kegel exercises: With your doctor's permission, you can try tightening the muscles that support your bladder by doing daily pelvic floor exercises.
  • Quit smoking: Smoking can induce chronic coughing episodes that strain your urethra, causing you to pass urine frequently.
  • Use vaginal inserts: Women with stress incontinence can use customized pessaries designed to solve pelvic support problems and take pressure off of the bladder.

Urge Incontinence

Urge incontinence causes involuntary urine leaks at inappropriate times. The disorder is characterized by intense, sudden urges to empty the bladder. If you have this type of incontinence, you will likely experience intense bladder spasms resulting in leakage between bathroom visits.

Urge incontinence is common in people with neurological disorders, diabetes, or infections of the pelvic organs. Here are several steps you can take to get urge incontinence under control and reduce the occurrence of accidents:

  • Review your medications: When possible, seek alternatives for muscle relaxants, diuretics, and narcotics that can contribute to an overactive bladder.
  • Adopt a bladder training program: Try spacing out your voids to gradually improve bladder capacity and reduce the strong urge to use the toilet.
  • Keep a bladder diary: A bladder diary can help you keep track of your bathroom habits and identify factors that may be worsening your incontinence. 
  • Remove barriers: To reduce the chance of unwanted accidents, consider removing furniture and other obstacles that prevent quick access to the bathroom.
  • Avoid strenuous activities: Running and weight lifting can put extra pressure on the abdomen and increase the urge to pee.

Overflow Incontinence

Overflow incontinence causes leakage due to the inability of the bladder to empty all the way during bathroom visits. The condition is often linked to blockages to the bladder that stretch the urethra, leading to involuntary urine dribbles. The disorder can be caused by an enlarged prostate, weakened bladder muscles, or damage to the nerves around the prostate. Other possible risk factors for incontinence include bladder stones or tumors that obstruct urine flow. 

Symptoms associated with the disorder include constant dribbling of urine and frequent urges to pee with only small amounts of urine coming out. This type of incontinence can also cause increased urine retention, leading to accidents even when you don't feel the urge to pee. Continence health professionals recommend the following treatments and home remedies to stop leaks associated with overflow incontinence:

  • Protective undergarments: Adult liners, pads, and underwear with absorbent padding can be worn discreetly under everyday clothing to catch urine leaks.
  • Urethral inserts: Women with incontinence can wear a pessary to support a prolapsed uterus, which can help reduce leakage episodes.
  • Double voiding: Emptying your bladder again after you finish peeing helps remove any retained urine.
  • Timed voiding: This technique entails peeing at set intervals throughout the day to prevent the buildup of excess urine that causes bladder overflows.

Mixed Incontinence

Mixed urinary incontinence is caused by a combination of urge and stress incontinence. The disorder is characterized by the involuntary passing of urine associated with a strong urge to pee. People with mixed incontinence often have stretched pelvic muscles and damaged bladder tissue caused by conditions such as obesity and childbirth. Weakness in the pelvic floor and urinary sphincter can result in little spurts of urine during routine activities such as laughing and sneezing.

If you have mixed incontinence, you may benefit from medical treatments and at-home remedies that help manage stress and urge incontinence. These include:

  • Dietary changes: Ditching caffeinated drinks, alcohol, and spicy foods that irritate the bladder can ease the urge to urinate and prevent incontinence from worsening. 
  • Pelvic muscle exercises: Doing targeted Kegel exercises can strengthen muscles of the pelvic floor, giving you better control over your peeing schedule.
  • Electrical stimulation: Electrical impulses can be applied to your pelvic bone to stimulate inactive muscles and nerves contributing to incontinence.
  • Botox bladder injections: Your doctor may recommend botox treatment to decrease unwanted bladder contractions that increase the urge to pee.
  • Surgery: Surgical intervention can treat mixed incontinence by restoring the bladder neck and urethra to the normal position. Talk to your doctor to find out if this is the right option for you.

Functional Incontinence

Functional incontinence means that you are unable to get to the bathroom in time, usually because there is an obstacle in your way. Many people with this type of incontinence experience urine leakage because they can't walk to the bathroom in time or have difficulty undressing before they pee.

One of the most common signs of functional incontinence is the inability to hold your peeing long enough to reach a toilet. Many people with this disorder suffer from degenerative diseases that hinder their ability to find the bathroom or recognize the need to go. Some practical approaches to functional incontinence management include:

  • Use inserts: Women with aging disorders that slow movement can use urethral inserts to hold back involuntary peeing.
  • Remove barriers: Eliminating poor lighting and furniture can help you quickly locate and access the toilet. Using easily removed clothing can also reduce the occurrence of bathroom accidents. 
  • Install visual and mobility aids: Mobility and toileting aids provide essential cues to guide those with cognitive issues when locating and using the toilet.

Managing Incontinence

Most people with urinary incontinence constantly grapple with the stress of not making it to the bathroom in time. Fortunately, various therapies and holistic home remedies are available to help tame the symptoms of bladder control loss. For instance, regular Kegel exercises can help tighten the pelvic floor muscles when performed correctly, giving you better control over your voiding routine. The use of modern treatments such as electrical stimulation can also help reduce the frequency of urination, empowering you to enjoy a leak-free life. A continence health professional can recommend an appropriate medication and therapy plan to help increase the amount of urine your bladder can hold.

Surprisingly, people with urinary incompetence can improve their ability to travel, work or visit family and friends simply by changing their behavioral habits. According to a 2019 study, behavioral therapy is highly effective at treating and managing urinary incontinence in women. Lifestyle changes such as reducing caffeine, alcohol, and other bladder-irritating fluids can significantly lower the risk of accidental urine leaks. Losing weight also helps relieve pressure on the pelvic floor muscles, which can reduce the urgency to visit the bathroom. 

Restricting water intake and soft drinks can also diminish leakage episodes and improve bladder control. Similarly, emptying your bladder regularly can help even if you don't feel the urge and intensity associated with incontinence. Be sure to also scope out bathrooms before visiting unfamiliar locations such as a new restaurant or shopping mall.

If leaking episodes persist, consider using protective underwear to ease the inconvenience and discomfort of urinary incontinence. Nexwear has a wide assortment of panty liners, bladder pads, and other products designed to help you live comfortably with incontinence.

Help To Tame Urinary Incontinence

Taming accidental urine leaks begins with educating yourself on the different types of incontinence. Some types of incontinence may be managed with behavioral changes, at-home treatments, or bladder training techniques. In other cases, your doctor may recommend more extensive interventions such as surgery or pelvic floor electrical stimulation.

If you're dealing with any form of urinary incontinence, there is a lot you can do to regain control over your bathroom schedule. Pads and protective garments offer an excellent option to ease the stress and discomfort of accidental leaks. Check out our Nexware incontinence products designed to provide you with premium protection and maximum comfort.