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Urinary incontinence is the involuntary leakage of urine. This is a common condition experienced by men and women of all ages. It is often a treatable condition and not something that a person just has to put up with. Unfortunately, patients often delay seeking treatment that could improve their quality of life.

What are the different types of urinary incontinence?

Stress Urinary Incontinence: Stress incontinence is leakage that occurs with physical activity or an increase in abdominal (belly) pressure. The cause is a weak sphincter that is unable to close tightly enough to keep the urine in the bladder during these activities.

People may experience leakage by coughing, laughing, sneezing, lifting, straining, or even simply getting out of a chair or bending over.

Stress urinary incontinence is an extremely common problem and can occur in women after childbirth or vaginal surgery and in men after prostate surgery. It can also occur in both sexes without any triggering factor as a consequence of aging.

Urgency Urinary Incontinence: Also referred to as “overactive bladder” this type of incontinence is usually accompanied by a sudden, strong urge to pass urine and an inability to get to the toilet fast enough. Some patients with urge incontinence may leak urine with no warning.

This type of incontinence is caused by a bladder muscle that squeezes before the bladder is full, or the command is given to pass urine.

Things that make urgent incontinence more likely include aging, obstruction of urine flow (from an enlarged prostate for example), inconsistent emptying of the bladder, and a diet high in bladder irritants (such as coffee, tea, colas, chocolate, and acidic fruit juices).

Mixed Urinary Incontinence: Mixed incontinence is a combination of urgency and stress incontinence.

Overflow urinary incontinence: Overflow incontinence occurs when the bladder does not empty properly and the amount of urine produced exceeds the capacity of the bladder.

It can cause frequent urination and dribbling. Poor bladder emptying occurs if there is an obstruction to flow or if the bladder muscle cannot contract effectively.

Diagnosing urinary incontinence

This is a very important step, as different types of incontinence need different types of therapy, ranging from behavioral changes to surgery.

To accurately diagnose your urinary incontinence your doctor will take a careful history, focusing on the factors that cause your leakage and the events surrounding it.

They need to consider your holistic well-being and take into account your other medical conditions as well as your social situation and toileting behaviors.

Some tests including urodynamics may be necessary to further the accuracy of the diagnosis.

When to seek help?

Urinary incontinence is not something you should have to put up with, nor should it be considered a normal part of aging.

Urinary incontinence can be a symptom of more serious underlying conditions. It can also greatly affect your quality of life, general health, and well-being.

Diagnosis, care, management, and treatments are available for all types of urinary incontinence.

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