While it may happen to anyone, urinary incontinence is more common in older people, especially older women. Incontinence can often be cured or controlled. Urinary incontinence is not a disease in itself, but it can be a symptom of an underlying problem. The kind of symptoms you have will help determine the type of urinary continence.
Some symptoms may include:
- Sudden, uncontrollable urge to urinate
- Leaking urine during exercise, sneezing, or coughing
- Frequent urination
- Constant dribbling
- Inability to empty the bladder
There are 4 general types of urinary incontinence. These include:
Stress urinary incontinence is the most common type of urinary incontinence. This is not caused by emotional stress but by strain on the bladder like jumping, bending, lifting, exercise, and even coughing or sneezing. Being overweight can also strain the bladder. If you have weak pelvic floor muscles, this strain can cause urine to leak. It can be a small amount of urine or just a few drops.
Stress incontinence is more likely to occur in women.
Overflow incontinence occurs when the body makes more urine than the bladder can hold. This may also occur if the bladder is full and can’t empty, which causes it to leak, causing frequent urinating in small amounts and constant dribbling.
This type is more common in men and is often associated with prostate surgery or prostate problems.
Also known as “urge” or “urgency incontinence,” this condition causes the bladder muscles to contract and signal a need to urinate even if the bladder is empty. It causes an overwhelming urge to urinate immediately and may cause accidents if you don’t make it to the restroom in time.
Urgency incontinence can be caused by physical problems like damage to the spine, brain, or the nerves between the spine and the bladder. It can also be caused by a bladder infection.
This form of incontinence occurs in many older people who have normal bladder control. They just have a problem getting to the toilet because of arthritis or other disorders that make it hard to move quickly.
“When do I need to see a doctor?”
You may feel uncomfortable discussing incontinence with your doctor. But if incontinence is frequent or is affecting your quality of life, it’s important to seek medical advice because urinary incontinence may:
- Cause you to restrict your activities and limit your social interactions
- Negatively impact your quality of life
- Increase the risk of falls in older adults as they rush to the toilet
- Indicate a more serious underlying condition