Urinary incontinence is an unfortunate occurrence that many of us have to deal with each and every day. Urinary incontinence takes place when the regular process of storing and passing urine is disturbed.
The regular storage and passing of urine can become disrupted due to numerous reasons; some factors may also come into play in terms of increased chance of developing urinary incontinence.
Causes of Stress Incontinence
Stress incontinence occurs due to a person’s urethra not being able to stay closed as the pressure inside their bladder fills, in which case becomes too much for the bladder to handle.
Why a person’s urethra may not be able to stay shut:
- Weak or damaged pelvic floor muscles
- A person’s urethral sphincter has been damaged
- If a person experiences any sudden extra pressure on their bladder, for example, laughing, sneezing etc can cause leakage in the urethra due to lack of strength. Loss of strength in a person’s urethra can often be caused by:
- Any nerve damage as a result of giving birth
- If a person has an increased amount of pressure on their stomach, e.g. pregnancy or being overweight
- If a woman has a lack of the hormone oestrogen (most likely for those going through menopause)
- Taking certain medications – check the instructions to see what the possible side effects are
Causes of Urge Incontinence
Urge incontinence occurs when there is a frequent need to pass urine, which is caused by an issue within the detrusor muscles, which are located on the inside walls of the bladder. The detrusor muscles are important as they relax when needed, which in turn allows the bladder to fill with urine and then contract again once a person goes to pass urine.
Urge incontinence is a result of the detrusor muscles contracting too often, which creates an urgent need to pass urine (detrusor over activity). The reasons for a person’s detrusor muscles to become over active are not completely clear; however, listed below are the possible causes:
- neurological conditions and diseases that have a direct affect on the brain and spinal cord, for example, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis etc.
- Any existing condition that affects the urethra and bladder; tumours in the bladder and/or urinary tract infections.
Also maintaining a healthy lifestyle, as the following can lead to contracting urge incontinence:
- drinking too much alcohol or caffeine
- certain medications
If the cause of urge incontinence can be treated or cut out in terms of a person’s intake e.g. too much coffee etc, then this could cure incontinence.
Causes of Overflow Incontinence
Overflow incontinence, which is also known as chronic urinary retention, is most commonly caused by an obstruction or even a blockage within the bladder. The bladder will likely fill up as usual, however, due to the obstruction or blockage, no matter how hard a person tries to completely empty their bladder, they simply can’t.
Furthermore, the urine that has remained in a person’s bladder builds up behind the obstruction or blockage, which in turn, causes frequent leaks.
A person’s bladder can become obstructed due to the following:
- Men who have an enlarged prostate gland
- Bladder stones
- Having constipation problems
Overflow incontinence may also be caused by your detrusor muscles not fully contracting, which means that your bladder does not completely empty when you go to the toilet. As a result, the bladder becomes stretched.
If you or someone you know suffers from a type of incontinence, there are several incontinence products available on the market that will suit a person’s individual needs. For example, there are many different types of incontinence pants and pads available for both men and women.
Sheila, the author of this article has worked in the healthcare sector for many years and has vast amount of knowledge and experience when it comes to urinary incontinence.