Types of Incontinence

There are a number of types of incontinence. Below is a list of the most common types and some useful information on each.

1. Stress Incontinence
Stress incontinence refers to stress upon the sphincter and pelvic muscles. A person with stress incontinence will experience small urine loss from coughing, sneezing, laughing or physical activities such as running, lifting heavy objects or getting off a chair or bed. This is the most common type of incontinence and occurs mainly in women.

2. Urge Incontinence
A person with urge incontinence experiences sudden, urgent desires to urinate and is unable to ‘hold on’ and get to the toilet in time. Their incontinent episodes may occur often, but not always, and they may have a small bladder capacity. Urge incontinence is sometimes referred to as an ‘overactive bladder’ and leakage can occur unexpectedly, such as when touching water, hearing running water, or when urination is anticipated (when you arrive home and are putting your keys in the door, for instance).

3. Retention/Overflow Incontinence
A person with retention/overflow incontinence strains to pass urine, feels that their bladder hasn’t emptied completely, constantly dribbles and may suffer from recurrent urinary tract infections. Retention/overflow incontinence is common in males who have an enlarged prostate gland.

4. Functional Incontinence
Functional incontinence is the result of physical, psychological and/or environmental problems that affect a person’s ability to reach or use the toilet. Some of these problems include poor mobility, poor dexterity, loss of memory or even poor building design.

5. Reflex Incontinence
A person suffering reflex incontinence will find that their bladder has emptied without any warning or, in some cases, without any sensation that this has occurred. Reflex incontinence can often be the result of a spinal cord injury.

6. Nocturia and Nocturnal Enuresis
A person with nocturia will wake frequently during the night to go to the toilet and find that they have insufficient time to reach the toilet once they have woken. A person with nocturnal enuresis will lose urine while they are sleeping, usually at night.

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