Urinary Incontinence | Symptoms

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Are there different types of incontinence?

Yes. There are 5 types of urinary incontinence. A brief explanation of each follows.

Stress incontinence

Stress incontinence is when urine leaks because of sudden pressure on your lower stomach muscles, such as when you cough, laugh, lift something or exercise. Stress incontinence usually occurs when the pelvic muscles are weakened, for example by childbirth or surgery. Stress incontinence is common in women.

Urge incontinence

This occurs when the need to urinate comes on very suddenly, often before you can get to a toilet. Your body may only give you a warning of a few seconds to minutes before you urinate. Urge incontinence is most common in the elderly and may be a sign of a urinary tract infection or an overactive bladder.

Overflow incontinence

This type of incontinence is the uncontrollable leakage of small amounts of urine. It's caused by an overfilled bladder. You may feel like you can't empty your bladder all the way and you may strain when urinating. This often occurs in men and can be caused by something blocking the urinary flow, such as an enlarged prostate gland or tumor. Diabetes or certain medicines may also cause the problem.

Functional incontinence

This type occurs when you have normal urine control but have trouble getting to the bathroom in time. You may not be able to get to the bathroom because of arthritis or other diseases that make it hard to move around.

Mixed incontinence

This type involves more than one of the types of incontinence listed above.

Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 04/14
Created: 01/00

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