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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Medical Symptoms > Urinary Incontinence
      Category : Health Centers > Urinary System & Kidneys

Urinary Incontinence

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

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
  • emotional disturbances
  • side effects of medications
  • weakened bladder muscles
  • excessive caffeine or alcohol intake
  • nerve damage to the bladder
  • severe constipation
  • 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


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    Urinary Incontinence: Symptoms & Signs

    Author: Dr. Karen Wolfe, MBBS, MA
    Reviewer: Adam Brochert, MD
    Date Reviewed: 09/04/01

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