Urinary incontinence is a common problem and is thought to affect millions of people worldwide. It’s not clear exactly how many people are affected, but it’s estimated that between 3 and 6 million people in the UK may have some degree of urinary incontinence.
What is urinary incontinence?
Urinary incontinence is a common problem that can affect both sexes – but women are more commonly affected. Urinary incontinence is the involuntary leakage of urine from the bladder. It can range from a small dribble now and then, to large floods of urine. Incontinence may cause you distress as well as being a hygiene problem.
There are two main kinds of urinary incontinence.
- Stress incontinence occurs when you sneeze, cough, laugh, jog, or do other things that put pressure on your bladdercamera.gif. It is the most common type of bladder control problem in women.
- Urge incontinence happens when you have a strong need to urinate but can’t reach the toilet in time. This can happen even when your bladder is holding only a small amount of urine. Some women may have no warning before they accidentally leak urine. Other women may leak urine when they drink water or when they hear or touch running water. Overactive bladder is a kind of urge incontinence. But not everyone with overactive bladder leaks urine.
Causes of Urinary Incotinence
Stress incontinence is the most common type. It occurs when the pressure in the bladder becomes too great for the bladder outlet to withstand. This is usually caused by weak pelvic floor muscles. Pelvic floor muscles are often weakened by childbirth. Stress incontinence is common in women who have had several children, in obese people and with increasing age.
Urge incontinence (unstable or overactive bladder) is the second most common cause. The bladder muscle contracts too early and the normal control is reduced. In most cases, the cause of urge incontinence is not known. This is called idiopathic urge incontinence. It seems that the bladder muscle gives wrong messages to the brain and the bladder may feel fuller than it actually is.
Mixed incontinence. Some people have a combination of stress and urge incontinence.