There are different types of incontinence and each one has different treatment options.
Stress incontinence - happens if you have urine leakage during everyday activities like sneezing, coughing, laughing or lifting heavy objects. It can come from weakened pelvic muscles that support the bladder. It’s the most common cause of leakage and happens in women who are pregnant, who’ve recently had children or who are going through menopause or hormonal changes, among other causes.
Urge incontinence - occurs when bladder muscles become too active and you feel a strong, sudden urge to urinate, even if your bladder has little urine. While more likely to happen in older women, this problem can occur at any age.
Overactive Bladder (OAB) - is a form of urinary incontinence where symptoms such as a frequent, often sudden and urgent need to urinate (urgency) may be accompanied by loss of urine. Feelings of urgency (you must go immediately) and the need to empty your bladder even though you may have just urinated, are symptoms of OAB.
The nerves that signal the feeling of urgency are sending abnormal messages to the bladder. The overactive bladder may spasm even when it contains a small amount of urine. Some foods are known bladder irritants and eating them may cause a need to urinate frequently. Urinary tract infections and some medications also can make you go to the bathroom more often. These symptoms can affect anyone at any age; they affect over 34 million people in the US.
Overflow incontinence - the bladder does not empty properly and urine dribbles out.
Mixed Urinary incontinence - a combination of stress and urge incontinence.
Functional incontinence - occurs in older women and it is not caused by urinary tract problems. Rather, it’s due to factors that make it hard for you to get to the bathroom in time – insufficient mobility, impaired dexterity or strange surroundings.
Other forms of incontinence may result from new medications or surgeries, faulty signals from the nervous system, or specific medical conditions. No matter what the cause, though, it’s important to let your health care provider know you are having symptoms early. Bladder control problems can be treated and managed successfully.
Diagnosis of Incontinence
Identifying the type of incontinence assists your provider in determining the right treatment option. A detailed medical history and a gynecologic exam and urine testing will determine if there is a anatomic condition or urinary tract infection causing incontinence. Additional testing including ultrasound and bladder pressure measurement, called cystometrogram, may be necessary. You may be asked to keep a food and voiding log to help narrow down additional triggers of incontinence.