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Incontinence FAQs (cont.)

Are there different kinds of incontinence?

Several different types of incontinence have been identified. Stress and urge incontinence are the most common types.

  • Stress incontinence: Also known as exertional incontinence, stress incontinence typically is associated with activities such as laughing, coughing, and sneezing can cause urine to leak unexpectedly. This is most common in women and is often caused by physical changes occurring with and after pregnancy.


  • Urge incontinence: The bladder feels like it needs to be relieved immediately, regardless of how much urine is in the bladder. Symptoms include needing to urinate immediately (urgency), needing to urinate often (frequency), and having to get up at night to urinate (nocturia). When one cannot get to the bathroom in time and leaks, this is urge incontinence. Most people now refer to this condition as overactive bladder (OAB). Occurring in men and women, this condition is believed to be caused by bladder muscles contracting undergoing spasm at the wrong times. This may be due to a disruption of signals between the bladder and the brain.


  • Mixed incontinence: When one person has both stress and urge incontinence, the condition is called mixed incontinence.


  • Overflow incontinence: Characterized by the retention of urine in the bladder after urinating, overflow incontinence is most common in men. Symptoms include dribbling of urine, urgency, hesitancy (waiting for the urine stream to begin), weak urine stream, straining to urinate, and urinating small amounts of urine at a time.


  • Dribbling incontinence: Dribbling urine immediately after urination is completed is called dribbling incontinence. This can occur in men and women.


  • Functional incontinence: When people are physically unable to make it to the bathroom in time due to a physical or mental condition, they are said to have functional incontinence.


  • Congenital incontinence: A child born with the bladder or ureter(s) out of place is said to have congenital incontinence.


  • Neuropathic incontinence: Problems affecting one or more nerves related to the bladder can cause different symptoms of incontinence. Abnormalities in the brain such as a stroke or a neurological disease can affect bladder function.


  • Traumatic incontinence: An injury to the pelvis, such as a fracture, or a complication of surgery can cause traumatic incontinence.
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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Incontinence, Urinary: Nonsurgical Therapies »

Urinary incontinence is defined by the International Continence Society as the involuntary loss of urine that represents a hygienic or social problem to the individual.

Read More on Medscape Reference »


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