Types of incontinence

Types of Incontinence and Their Specific Causes.

  1. Urge incontinence: Involuntary loss of urine associated with a sudden urge and desire to void. Associated with detrusor overactivity. Causes include neurologic disorders (such as stroke, multiple sclerosis), urinary tract infections, and cancer.
  2. Stress incontinence: Involuntary loss of urine during coughing, sneezing, laughing, or other increases in intra-abdominal pressure. Most commonly seen in women after middle age (especially with repeated pregnancies and vaginal deliveries), stress incontinence is often a result of weakness of the pelvic floor. Another cause is intrinsic urethral sphincter weakness.
  3. Overflow incontinence: Involuntary loss of urine associated with overdistension of the bladder. May have frequent dribbling or present as urge or stress incontinence. May be attributable to underactive bladder, bladder outlet obstruction (such as tumor, prostatic hypertrophy), drugs (such as diuretics), fecal impaction, diabetic neuropathy, or vitamin B12 deficiency.
  4. Functional incontinence: Immobility, cognitive deficits, paraplegia, or poor bladder compliance.
  5. Enuresis: Involuntary loss of urine during sleep. Primary enuresis refers to inability to maintain urinary control from infancy. Secondary enuresis is a relapse after control has been achieved.
  6. Urine Retention: Urine retention occurs when a large amount of urine stays in the bladder after a person has urinated. This build-up of urine can put a person at increased risk for urinary tract infections and subsequent overflow incontinence.
  7. Bowel Incontinence: There are two main types of bowel incontinence:
    • Passive fecal incontinence: related to a poorly functioning sphincter muscle. The person with passive fecal incontinence is unaware that stool is being passed.
    • Urge incontinence: often caused by disease in the rectum. Urge incontinence results in involuntary passage of stool through normal sphincter muscles.


©2005 Incontinence Support Center