Urinary Incontinence: Types & Symptoms

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Urinary Incontinence: Types & Symptoms
Urinary Incontinence: Types & Symptoms
Video: Urinary Incontinence: Types & Symptoms
Video: Urinary incontinence - causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, pathology 2023, February

Urinary Incontinence: Types & Symptoms

The development of incontinence can be caused or promoted by a variety of factors. Therefore there are also different forms. The most important are stress, urge and overflow incontinence. Mixed forms of stress and urge incontinence can also occur. The symptoms often cause a lot of suffering in those affected…


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  • Rare forms of urinary incontinence

In addition to unintentional loss of urine, those affected suffer from frequent use of the toilet, disturbance of the night's sleep by standing up several times to urinate, and a sudden, strong urge to urinate. This is shown by a study carried out by the Austrian Medical Continence Society. It is also particularly noticeable that a fifth of the respondents have had urinary incontinence for at least ten years, and another fifth for at least five years. Around 60 percent of those affected did not raise their problem with their family doctor. This shows what a big taboo subject urinary incontinence is still. The prevailing symptoms also depend on the causes and the type of urinary incontinence present.

What types of urinary incontinence are there?

The most common types of urinary incontinence are:

  • Stress incontinence, formerly called stress incontinence.
  • Urge incontinence, also urge incontinence or syndrome of the overactive bladder ("overactive bladder", OAB), irritable bladder.
  • Mixed incontinence from stress and urge incontinence.
  • Overflow incontinence, also: urinary incontinence with chronic urinary retention (urinary flow disorder).

Depending on gender or age, different forms prevail:

  • Men: Most common is urge incontinence.
  • Women: Overall, stress incontinence predominates (approx. 50 percent), followed by mixed incontinence (approx. 30 percent) and urge incontinence (approx. 15 percent). With increasing age, the proportion of urge and mixed incontinence increases.

Stress incontinence

The urethral closure mechanism no longer works properly. If the pressure in the abdomen increases, urine may leak out unintentionally, usually in droplets. Depending on the severity (I-III) of the stress urinary incontinence, this can happen in the following situations:

  • when coughing, sneezing, laughing and carrying, but also when walking, when getting up (I),
  • for sporting activities (II),
  • when lying down or when changing position in bed or during less strenuous movements (III).

In women, this form of incontinence may develop as a long-term consequence of severe or multiple births. It can also show up in the last trimester of pregnancy, but usually disappears again after the birth.

Urge incontinence

There is a frequent and sometimes very intense need to urinate, with unwanted urine leakage. Those affected very often have to pass small amounts of urine (pollakiuria). This can be a major burden, especially at night (nocturia). The urge to urinate can build up so quickly and intensely that a toilet is no longer available in time (imperative to urinate). Reasons can be an excessive sensitivity of the bladder and uninhibited contractions of the urinary bladder muscle (detrusors). Possible causes include:

  • Inflammation of the bladder (cystitis)
  • Radiation treatment or foreign bodies in the urethra,
  • neurological diseases such as Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis or Alzheimer's disease.

Urge incontinence often leads to falls in elderly or very old people.

For more information, see Seniors & Accidents: The dangers lurk at home.

Mixed incontinence

Stress and urge incontinence are present at the same time. This leads to an involuntary loss of urine and usually a strong urge to urinate. The reasons are an overactive urinary bladder and weak urethral occlusion. Older women often develop urge incontinence in addition to existing stress incontinence.

Overflow incontinence

A mostly continuous, dropwise loss of urine is typical, whereby the urinary bladder is never completely emptied. The outflow of urine is obstructed, so that the urinary bladder is overfilled and over-stretched over time. As a long-term consequence, the kidneys can be damaged by urinary retention. Overflow incontinence mainly affects men.

Possible causes for flow obstruction: e.g. enlarged prostate, urinary stones or urethral constriction, tumors, age-related weak bladder muscles.

Rare forms of urinary incontinence

  • With extraurethral incontinence, bypassing the urethra leads to the unwanted leakage of urine. This can take place, for example, through tissue damage or the finest fistulas.
  • A reflex incontinence can occur when a spinal cord injury, for example.
  • Nocturnal bed-wetting (enuresis) unintentionally leaks urine during sleep. When a child becomes "dry" is very individual. From the age of five, however, it should be able to consciously control the urge to urinate. This usually works during the day. If you accidentally leak urine several times a month while sleeping, this is called bed-wetting. In very rare cases, adults can also suffer from enuresis.

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