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Types of Urinary Incontinence

Urge Incontinence (Overactive Bladder)
With this type of urinary incontinence, you lose urine for no apparent reason while suddenly feeling the need or urge to urinate. The most common cause of urge incontinence is inappropriate bladder contractions.
Medical professionals describe such a bladder as "unstable," "spastic," or "overactive." Your doctor might call your condition "reflex incontinence" if it results from overactive nerves controlling the bladder.
Urge incontinence can mean that your bladder empties during sleep, after drinking a small amount of water, or when you touch water or hear it running (as when washing dishes or hearing someone else taking a shower).
Involuntary actions of bladder muscles can occur because of damage to the:
  • Nerves of the bladder
  • Nervous system (spinal cord and brain)
  • Bladder muscles themselves.
Other problems that can harm bladder nerves or muscles include:
Functional Incontinence
People with functional incontinence may have problems thinking, moving, or communicating that can prevent them from reaching a toilet. A person with Alzheimer's disease, for example, may not think well enough to plan a timely trip to a restroom. A person in a wheelchair may be blocked from getting to a toilet in time. Conditions such as these are often associated with age, and account for some of the incontinence of elderly women in nursing homes.
Overflow Incontinence
If your bladder is always full so that it frequently leaks urine, you may have overflow incontinence. Weak bladder muscles or a blocked urethra can cause this type of incontinence. Nerve damage from diabetes or other diseases can lead to weak bladder muscles; tumors and urinary stones can block the urethra. Overflow incontinence is rare in women.
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