The Types and Causes of Incontinence

Incontinence Embarassment

Incontinence is a tricky disorder to manage.  Unlike many other conditions whose effects can go undetected, the inability to control one’s bladder function can become public knowledge very quickly. The appearance of moisture on clothing and the presence of urine’s distinct odor make it obvious.  In the US, nearly 3.5  million Americans deal with incontinence – almost ten percent of the population. Incontinence may be caused by a number of factors: as a result of recent surgery, or as an involuntary reaction to pressure-exerting movements.


Types of Incontinence

According to the Mayo Clinic, the most common types are stress, urge, and overflow incontinence.

  • Stress incontinence. Unrelated to emotional or psychological stress, this type of incontinence results from a weakened sphincter – the area of the bladder that controls flow.  This reduced control can be caused by bodily changes (as in pregnancy in women) or a side effect from a recent surgery.  By exerting pressure on the bladder through specific movements – both voluntary, like lifting or running, and involuntary, as with laughing, sneezing, and coughing – urine is forced out of the bladder. And, with little resistance from the weakened muscle, urine easily bypasses the sphincter.
  • Urge incontinence. Characterized by an immediate and intense urge to urinate, urge incontinence may also be referred to as overactive bladder.  This type of incontinence allows only limited forewarning – rarely more than a minute – before involuntary emission occurs.  This type of incontinence causes the bladder muscle to contract. It is often a side effect of urinary tract infections, certain diseases including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, stroke, and traumatic injury, among others.
  • Overflow incontinence. This type of incontinence causes a constant or near-constant dribble, which reflects an inability to completely empty the bladder. Sufferers of overflow incontinence may sense this when urinating or may produce only a weak stream of urine. Overflow incontinence is often seen in patients with a damaged bladder, or a blocked urethra. Nerve damage related to diabetes, multiple sclerosis or spinal cord injury may also be a cause; specifically in men, overflow incontinence can be related to prostate gland problems.

Seeking Help

It is imperative to consult with a doctor, as it may be a symptom of another, more serious, condition. If the problem is more serious, a home health aide who provides in-home care can assist loved ones with undergarment changing and assist with diaper changing.

At David York Agency, we provide a Free Nursing Assessment for all of our clients.  All of our home health aides undergo comprehensive training and are up-to-date with their certification and techniques.  We take special care to match your needs with the aide’s skills and abilities. You can be assured that the caregiver we send to your home is the very best for your situation.  For more information about home health aides, please contact us at 718.376.7755 or and visit our Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter pages.