Urinary incontinence is defined as the loss of bladder control and is a common and often embarrassing problem. Urinary incontinence isn’t a disease, rather a symptom that can be caused by everyday habits, underlying medical conditions or physical problems. Factors that increase your risk of developing urinary incontinence include:
Gender. Women are more likely to have stress incontinence. Pregnancy, childbirth, menopause and normal female anatomy account for this difference. However, men with prostate gland problems are at increased risk of urge and overflow incontinence.
Age. As you get older, the muscles in your bladder and urethra lose some of their strength. Changes with age reduce how much your bladder can hold and increase the chances of involuntary urine release.
Being overweight. Extra weight increases pressure on your bladder and surrounding muscles, which can weaken them and allow urine to leak out when you cough or sneeze.
Other diseases. Neurological disease or diabetes may increase your risk of incontinence.
There are many types of urinary incontinence:
Stress incontinence. Urine leakage with coughing, sneezing, laughing, exercising or lifting something heavy.
Urge incontinence. An involuntary loss of urine associated with a sudden and intense urge to urinate.
Overflow incontinence. You experience frequent or constant dribbling of urine due to a bladder that doesn’t empty completely.
Mixed incontinence. You experience more than one type of urinary incontinence.
If incontinence is frequent or is affecting your quality of life, it’s important to seek medical advice. Urinary incontinence may indicate a more serious underlying condition, cause you to restrict your activities and limit your social interactions, or increase the risk of falls in older adults as they rush to use the restroom. For most people, simple lifestyle changes or medical treatment can ease discomfort or stop urinary incontinence.