Bladder control problems can be particularly embarrassing, which typically causes people to remain silent about their suffering. Unfortunately, what most people don’t understand is that they don’t need to suffer in silence and that incontinence can be improved or cured in many cases.
The first step towards finding effective incontinence treatment is gaining an understanding of the causes behind the condition and consulting with a board-certified urologist such as the acclaimed physicians at Comprehensive Urology.
What is Urinary Incontinence?
Urinary incontinence or urine leakage occurs when the muscles of the bladder that control the flow of urine either contract or relax involuntarily. Incontinence causes problems for millions of men and women, affecting 1 out of 10 people over the age of 65. Due to differences in the urinary anatomical structures, women tend to suffer from bladder issues more often than men.
Bladder leakage is characterized by specific ranges and types. The ranges of bladder issues are:
- Mild incontinence
- Occasional bladder leakage
- Chronic uncontrolled urination
Five Common Types of Urinary Incontinence
This is the most common type of urinary incontinence and is caused by pressure or sudden muscle contractions on the bladder. Stress incontinence can happen when pressure on the bladder increases during common daily activities — such as when you exercise, laugh, sneeze, or cough. Incontinence of this type is often due to an inherent weakness of the pelvic floor muscles, which may occur as a result of stress during pregnancy or childbirth, or due to the beginning of menopause.
Urge incontinence is sometimes called an overactive bladder and occurs when a person feels the urge to urinate but is unable to hold back the urine long enough to make it to the bathroom. This type can be experienced by people who have had a stroke or suffer a chronic disease like diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis. In some cases, urge incontinence may be an early sign of bladder cancer.
Overflow incontinence is characterized by the inability to empty the bladder completely and the remaining urine in time increases and eventually overflows and leaks out of the full bladder as new urine is produced. Loss of bladder sensations (nerve damage such as in diabetics) and weakening of bladder muscles by chronic overfilling are the most common cause of overflow incontinence in women and can be found in people with diabetes and spinal cord injuries.
This is one of the few types of incontinence that have less to do with a bladder disorder and is more a problem with navigating the logistics of getting to the bathroom in time. Functional incontinence is most commonly found in elderly or disabled people who may have normal bladder control but suffer from mobility limitations or confusion that interferes with their ability to empty their bladder in a typical fashion.
Gross Total Incontinence
Gross total incontinence refers to constant urine leakage from the bladder and may be the result of an anatomical defect, spinal cord injury, an abnormal opening in the bladder (fistula), or as a result of an unsuccessful urinary tract surgery.
These are common causes:
- Overactive bladder muscles
- Weakened pelvic floor muscles
- Nerve damage
- Interstitial cystitis or other bladder conditions
While urinary incontinence itself is not a disease, it can be a symptom of an underlying problem. Educating yourself about the risk factors can help reduce the possibility of developing incontinence and help promote lasting urinary health.
Five Risk Factors to Watch Out For
Females are twice as likely as men to experience stress incontinence. This is due to childbearing but can also be experienced with the onset of menopause and the weakening of the pelvic floor muscles over time.
Contrary to popular belief, urinary incontinence isn’t considered a normal part of aging. However, as we get older, our bladder and urinary sphincter muscles weaken, which may result in frequent urination or even unexpected urges to urinate that can contribute to the condition.
Excess Body Fat
Obesity and excess body fat can cause a whole range of health problems including stress incontinence as a result of increasing pressure on the bladder, which can lead to bladder leakage during typical activities like exercise, coughing or sneezing.
Cigarette smoking can cause chronic coughing, which in turn can create urine leakage. This is because a constant cough can damage the muscles of the pelvic floor, leading to a weak bladder. What’s more, smoking is a known bladder irritant, which could cause overactive bladder symptoms.
Other Chronic Diseases
Many conditions can increase the risk of urinary incontinence including vascular disease, kidney disease, diabetes, prostate cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, etc.
Learn more about potential causes of urinary leakage and incontinence treatment at WebMD.com.
What is Urinary Incontinence? Incontinence is characterized by a weak bladder and/or the inability to control urine leakage.
What are the Most Common Types of Urinary Incontinence? Stress, Urge, Overflow, Functional, and Gross Total Incontinence
What are the Most Common Incontinence Causes? Sex, Age, Obesity, Smoking, or other chronic diseases
Contact Our Urology Experts Today!
If you have concerns about incontinence treatment or are looking for more information on bladder control, schedule a consultation with one of our talented urologists in Beverly Hills today.