Are there many different types of urinary incontinence?
There are different types of urinary incontinence; each type recognizes different causes and has very different characteristics. Frequently more than one type of incontinence can be present in one patient; in this case the incontinence is defined as mixed.
In case of stress urinary incontinence, the urine leaks due to weakened pelvic floor muscles and tissues. It happens when the pressure in the urinary bladder becomes higher than the pressure of closure of the urinary sphincter muscle, which is a muscle cuff that naturally surrounds the urethra (= the water pipe) preventing the urine from leaking. Certainly, if the sphincter is weakened, even low bladder pressures can cause urine leak. Since the bladder is contained in the abdominal cavity, an increase in pressure in the abdominal cavity will be transmitted to the bladder. Patients with stress urinary incontinence tend therefore to leak during the daily activities that increase intra abdominal pressure such as physical activity, cough, sneeze or laugh. The more weakened the sphincter is, the less the intensity of the activity required to cause leak. In the most severe cases, patients leak at rest o for minimal physical efforts.
Urge incontinence is instead characterized by an urgent need to urinate. Patients suffering from urge incontinence usually feel a sudden need to urinate, which cannot be postponed. Any attempt to delay urination can lead to a leak of urine. In case of urge incontinence, the urinary sphincter is intact, but the detrusor muscle, which is part of the bladder wall responsible of squeezing the urine out, tends to contract spontaneously. The spontaneous contraction of the detrusor muscle causes a sudden increase of pressure into the bladder and this is responsible of the sudden urge to void. If the pressure in the bladder becomes higher than the pressure of the sphincter, a urine leak can occur.
Overflow incontinence is instead characterized by a continuous leak of urine in a patient with bladder overdistended by urine.
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