The Different Types of Incontinence and Their Signs
Your Health & Wellbeing

The Different Types of Incontinence and Their Signs

by Gary Sattin on Oct 09, 2022

It isn’t the most uncommon thing in the world to experience a frequent urge to urinate. This is often a short-term inconvenience, perhaps attributed to a UTI or kidney stones. Individuals can often remedy these ailments via an antibiotic or other forms of medical attention. If the problem persists, however, you may experience an overactive bladder (OAB), or urinary incontinence.

Depending on the circumstances, urinary incontinence can be a long-term malady. For example, of individuals admitted to a hospital due to a stroke, 40-60% will experience incontinence. Further, it will continue to affect 15% of them a year later. Individuals with Alzheimer’s are also more likely to develop incontinence, oftentimes indefinitely.

With that said, people of all ages and health backgrounds can experience incontinence at some point in their life. Whether you’re caring for someone suffering from incontinence or are experiencing your own symptoms, it’s important to understand the source. There are different types of incontinence, each presenting their own symptoms. We provide an overview of the different signs of incontinence, as well as the symptoms that accompany them.

Urge Incontinence

As you may have guessed, urge incontinence presents itself with an intense need to urinate—one that is oftentimes uncontrollable. Sometimes, sounds such as running water can cause this urge; however, it can be challenging to pinpoint why exactly you’re experiencing it. While we can often attribute this to nothing other than an OAB, it can also be a sign of underlying causes. As such, it’s important to meet with a healthcare professional. Signs of urge incontinence may include:

  • A need to urinate that can provoke a loss of bladder control
  • Frequent urination
  • Waking up more than once during the night to urinate, a condition known as Nocturia

Stress Incontinence

Though the title may lead you to believe as much, stress incontinence doesn’t have any correlation to mental stress. Its name references physical stress on the body that can cause involuntary leaking. Anywhere from mild to intensive activity can cause the pressure that creates these leaks. Factors such as pregnancy or obesity can weaken the muscles as well. The symptoms can arise via activities such as:

  • Weight lifting
  • Yoga
  • Other forms of physical exercise
  • Sexual activity
  • Laughing
  • Coughing or sneezing

Overflow Incontinence

Overflow incontinence is the inability to completely empty your bladder. Since you’re unaware of the fact that your bladder still contains urine, you may experience leaks throughout the day. This is usually because your bladder’s muscles are unable to properly release all the urine. This comes from damage sustained to the muscles or nerves. Eventually, your bladder may be unable to hold the urine, which is what causes the leaks. Common symptoms of overflow incontinence may include:

  • Difficulty urinating
  • Leaks that occur both during the day, as well as during sleep
  • An inconsistent stream of urine while in the restroom
  • Feeling as though you cannot release all your urine and that your bladder is still full after relieving yourself

Functional Incontinence

Functional incontinence indicates an individual (likely) has no physical issues with the bladder itself. The muscles are in optimal working order and the bladder’s capacity also holds no threat.

The accidents caused by this form of incontinence are usually the result of a physical or mental roadblock. This obstacle prevents an individual from locating a restroom in time to use it. From a physical standpoint, the patient may be physically impaired and use a wheelchair or crutches. They may also have difficulties removing their clothes. There’s also a chance that an Alzheimer’s patient may be unaware of their need to urinate or can’t communicate it.


The symptoms can be as simple as realizing the person in your care has frequent accidents. You can also pay attention to their body language— do they fidget and play with their waistband shortly before their accident? Look for the warning signs and plot a strategy that starts there. You can also consult with their doctor to learn more about interpreting their means of communicating.

All of the Above?

A person can have more than one type of incontinence. In many scenarios, individuals may find that they’re experiencing symptoms related to all the categories above. However, if this is the case, don’t let this alarm you, as it’s perfectly normal, if not common. Categorizing the different types is to make diagnostics easier; however, they oftentimes intersect.

Signs You Should See a Doctor

In most cases, a doctor can confirm your suspicion if you expect that you may have incontinence. However, some who experience only a few symptoms may give it a little bit of time to see if it passes before reaching out for medical help. Talking to a doctor may seem unnecessary, but if the symptoms continue to progress, you shouldn’t put off meeting with a healthcare professional any longer. If you get to a point where you’re experiencing some of the symptoms below, or your symptoms have persisted for longer than a week, it may be time. When you go to your appointment, consider drinking water beforehand as the doctor may request a urine sample. The signs you should see a doctor are as follows:

  • You are visiting the bathroom more than eight times a day
  • You experience a sudden urge to urinate that appears out of nowhere
  • You have blood in your urine
  • You experience pain when urinating
  • You find yourself with an inability to urinate
  • Your bathroom habits negatively affect your life  

Conclusion

As outlined above, there are many different types of incontinence, and many causes—some that require a doctor’s opinion. Dealing with incontinence is annoying at its best, and life-altering at its worst. Luckily, there are ways to deal with the diagnosis. Look into some of these preventive measures and confide in people you trust to help make the process easier to manage.

TotalDry carries an assortment of items that can keep you comfortable as you navigate your condition. One of our most popular product categories are the TotalDry Moderate & Heavy  Pads, which can ease the irritation that comes with incontinence and protect clothing. If disposable diapers or protective underwear is being word, the TotalDry Boost Ups and TotalDry Boosters can add a second line of defense in combating wetness.  Oftentimes, the dampness can have effects on your skin, such as rashes and infections. We specifically cater our products to help you throughout your process. Once you familiarize yourself with the symptoms and ways to work through them, you can comfortably concentrate on the other important aspects of your life.

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