Overactive Bladder

Explanation of Incontinence

The loss of bladder control can be an be an embarrassing problem that keeps you from enjoying life and the activities that you love. It’s no small problem. It’s estimated that 13 million Americans suffer from these problems which are called Urinary Incontinence or UI.

adult changing station

photo credit: gruntzooki Adult Change Tables Inside sign, toilet, Phoneix Sky Harbor Airport, Arizona, USA via photopin (license)

UI is often associated with gender, surgery, and physical changes associated with surgery, pregnancy, and menopause. Regardless of the cause, bladder control problems aren’t just a normal part of aging and can be treated. To better understand the symptoms and signs of this condition, it helps to know how the bladder works.

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The bladder is where urine is stored. The bladder has a small tube that allows urine to pass from the body – the urethra. Beneath the bladder is a muscle called the pelvic floor muscle. This muscle is usually contracted which helps support the bladder and keeps urine from leaking from the bladder. During urination, the neck of the bladder relaxes and the urethral sp sphincter opens. There are five different types of UI:

Stress Incontinence

  • Most common
  • Caused by pressure on the bladder
  • Typically affects women
  • Affects men after the removal of the prostate

Urge Incontinence Causes (Overactive Bladder)

  • Drug Side Effects
  • Nerve Damage
  • Stroke
  • Neurological Diseases (Multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s)

Urge Incontinence is characterized by a sudden urge to urinate even when the bladder is not full. The urge to go may be so strong that you may not make it in time. Sometimes the cause of Urge Incontinence cannot be explained.

Overflow Incontinence

  • Individuals dribble or leak urine
  • Bladder doesn’t empty completely
  • Prostate problems
  • Nerve damage from diabetes

Overflow Incontinence is far more frequent in men then it is in women. It can be caused by prostate problems, nerve damage, or as a side effect of the medication.

Mixed Incontinence

  • Presence of more than one of the above conditions
  • Typically a combination of Stress & Urge Incontinence
  • Functional Incontinence
  • Usually affects older adults
  • Common in nursing homes
  • Can be caused by physical disabilities or neurological disabilities like Alzheimer’s

There is another type of incontinence–Overnight Incontinence. This can happen to individuals taking certain medications or who drink too much alcohol.



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