What Is Urinary Incontinence
Urinary incontinence is the involuntary or uncontrolled leakage of urine from the bladder. It can be a chronic or a temporary problem. While it may happen to anyone, urinary incontinence is more common in older people, especially those suffering from weak bladder muscles, or a damage to the bladder nerves. A number of diseases such as multiple sclerosis, diabetes, or Parkinson’s disease can damage the bladder leading to incontinence.
Types of Incontinence
Some types of incontinence are unique to women, others are found only in men.
- Stress Incontinence: It causes you to leak urine when you cough, laugh, or exercise. Stress urinary incontinence can also occur in post-menopausal women due to age related physiological changes.
- Urge Incontinence: When you leak urine after feeling a sudden, strong urge to urinate. You may have to go eight or more times a day and more than once at night. Urge incontinence is caused by a combination of both bladder and pelvic floor dysfunction. In men, urge incontinence occurs when the bladder muscles squeeze so hard that the sphincter can't hold back the urine.
- Mixed Incontinence: It is a combination of urge and stress incontinence. The condition is more common in women.
- Overflow Incontinence: Being unable to empty your bladder completely, you may leak urine once your bladder is full. Overflow incontinence is more common in men. It can be caused by some form of blockage or obstruction in the bladder, such as enlarged prostate, bladder stones or even constipation.
- Functional Incontinence: Medical conditions such as arthritis, keep you from getting to the bathroom in time. Functional incontinence can be due to a variety of reasons, such as cognitive impairment, immobility, and individuals who rely on others for their toileting needs.
- Neurological Bladder Disorders: These disorders can be caused by any of a number of illnesses.
- Post-Micturition Dribble: When your bladder doesn't empty completely and continues to leak.
What Causes Urinary Incontinence?
Some causes include:
- Urinary Tract Infection: Irritated bladder can lead to a strong urge to urinate.
- Pregnancy and Childbirth: Giving birth can weaken the muscles of the pelvis.
- Menopause: Stress incontinence is more common when estrogen levels drop.
- Prostate Problems: Prostate surgery or enlarged prostate can cause incontinence.
- Smoking: Smokers are at a higher risk for incontinence.
- Being Overweight: Excess weight can put pressure on your bladder leading to urine leakage.
- Medical Conditions: Conditions include diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson’s disease. Anxiety is also a possible trigger.
- Medications: Incontinence might be a side effect of some medications, such as diuretics, sedatives, and some depression drugs.
- Hysterectomy: Damage to the muscles or ligaments.
Most incontinence in men is related to the prostate gland. Male incontinence may be caused by:
- Injury, or muscles/nerves damage
- An enlarged prostate gland
What Is Bowel Incontinence?
Bowel incontinence is an inability to control bowel movements.
It's thought that 1 in 10 people will be affected by it at some point in life.
A number of factors, including age, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease may increase the risk of developing fecal incontinence.
Types of Bowel Incontinence
- Urge Incontinence: Occurs in people who are unable to stop the urge to defecate.
- Passive Incontinence: Occurs in people who are not aware of the need to pass stools.
Bowel or Fecal incontinence may be accompanied by other bowel problems, such as:
- Gas and bloating
Causes can include:
- Muscle Damage: Injury to the rings of muscle at the end of the rectum.
- Nerve Damage: Injury to the nerves that sense stool in the rectum or those that control the anal sphincter.
- Constipation: Chronic constipation may cause a solid hard mass or nerve damage that leads to bowel incontinence.
- Diarrhea: Loose stools of diarrhea can cause or worsen bowel incontinence.
- Hemorrhoids: These can allow the stool to leak out.
- Surgery: Surgery to treat enlarged veins in the rectum can cause muscle and nerve damage that leads to bowel incontinence.
- Rectal Prolapse: Fecal incontinence can be a result of this condition.
- Rectocele: In women, fecal incontinence can occur if the rectum protrudes through the vagina.
Bladder and Bowel Incontinence Symptoms
- Accidental leakage of urine or feces
- Failure to get to the toilet in time
- Passing small amounts of urine many times a day
- Struggling with starting to urinate
- A stinging sensation when urinating
- Chronic constipation
- A frequent need to get out of bed at night to pass urine