What types of urine loss are there?

Depending on its physical cause, incontinence can be experienced in many different ways. Whatever type your loved one has, though, it’s important to remember that it can be successfully managed with the right products. The most common types are Stress Incontinence and Urge Incontinence, and it can also quite often be a combination of the two. The following questions can help you decide.

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How do you speak to your loved one about bladder weakness?


Is your loved one unable, or do they fail to make it to the toilet?

Functional Incontinence is the inability to reach the toilet in time due to lack of mobility or mental illness such as Dementia or Alzheimer’s. If your loved one is bedridden, confined to a wheelchair, or just unable to move about unaided, incontinence is a very common occurrence.

Have they experienced nerve damage?

Certain medical conditions such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, a stroke, diabetes or Multiple Sclerosis can result in Neurological Bladder Disorders. This is when the brain fails to recognize the signals to urinate, often due to nerve damage caused by injury or illnesses.

Are unexpected leaks caused by physical exertion?

Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI) occurs when the bladder unexpectedly leaks due to pressure from physical exertion such as coughing, sneezing, laughing, heavy lifting or exercising. Amounts of leakage tend to be small but there can be larger leakages. This is the most common type of incontinence women experience.

Have they an uncontrollable urge to urinate without warning?

This is likely to be Urge Urinary Incontinence (UUI). Urge incontinence, occurs when the bladder tries to empty despite best efforts to restrain leaking. There is a lack of co-ordination between impulses the brain gives to the bladder and what the bladder does. This can result in quite large losses of urine and increased frequency of urination. This is the most common type of incontinence for men and is commonly linked to an enlarged prostate or prostate surgery. However it is quite common for women too.

Have they experienced more than one type?

Mixed Incontinence is a combination of more than one type of incontinence. For example, some people experience a combination of stress and urge incontinence.

Have they experienced dribbling after urination?

Overflow Incontinence affects men when the bladder does not empty completely and urine collects in the end of the penis and begins to dribble out. It is usually caused by an obstruction such as faecal impaction, an enlarged prostrate, nerve damage, or an abnormality in the urethra.

Have they experienced Faecal Incontinence?

Faecal Incontinence is the involuntary passage of faeces. Some causes of faecal incontinence are constipation or diarrhoea, damage to the anal sphincter muscles or the rectum, loss of storage capacity in the rectum or pelvic floor dysfunction.

If your loved one has faecal incontinence you should consult a healthcare professional on the treatment and management of this.

So, now you know all the main types of incontinence you’ll want to know what you can do to make life as comfortable as you can for your loved one, and maybe hear some practical advice from other carers in see what you can do.

If none of the above types of incontinence seems to match your loved one’s condition, we advise you to contact a healthcare professional to give him or her a personal assessment. If it is practical to do so, it could be useful to try and keep a diary for a week recording their urination pattern. This can sometimes help speed up the professional diagnosis. But don’t worry if it’s not possible to do this, your doctor will still be able to help. You can download a diary form here.