Urinary incontinence is the uncontrollable loss of urine. The six main types of urinary incontinence are:
urge incontinence, which is an urgent need to urinate followed by urine leakage
stress incontinence, which is the leakage of urine when laughing, coughing, sneezing, or lifting heavy objects
overflow incontinence, which occurs when small amounts of urine leak from a full bladder
total incontinence, or a constant dripping of urine day and night
psychological incontinence, which has an emotional rather than a physical cause
mixed incontinence, which is a mixture of the causes listed
What is going on in the body?
Urinary incontinence can occur at any age. The kidneys constantly produce urine. Urine flows through two long tubes, or ureters, to the bladder, where urine is stored. A muscle at the bottom of the bladder stays contracted, or tightened, so urine remains in the bladder until it is full. When the decision is made to urinate, the muscle relaxes and urine flows out. The entire process is complex. The ability to control urination can be disrupted in different ways, resulting in urinary incontinence.
What are the causes and risks of the condition?
Urinary incontinence can occur at any age. Women are twice as likely as men to be affected. The cause of this condition is different among different age groups. There are many possible causes of urinary incontinence. These include:
urinary tract infection
stones in the bladder
side effects of medications
weakened bladder muscles
excessive caffeine or alcohol intake
nerve damage to the bladder
overactivity of the bladder
in women, lack of the main female hormone known as estrogen
changes in the body from childbirth or surgery
enlargement of the prostate or benign prostatic hyperplasia