Urinary incontinence is the involuntary leakage of urine. It is a common condition that can affect the physical, psychological and social wellbeing of those affected , as well as their families and caregivers.
There is involuntary leakage of urine on effort or exertion e.g. sneezing or coughing. It is usually caused by an incompetent sphincter and weak pelvic outlet from previous trauma, previous pregnancies, or increased abdominal pressure such as constipation, obesity and chronic cough.
There is involuntary leakage of urine accompanied by, or immediately preceded by, the urgent need to empty your bladder. This is due to the involuntary and inappropriate contractions of the muscles in the wall of the bladder. The cause is usually unknown but may also be caused by local irritation from urinary tract infection, bladder stones or bladder tumour. Other uncommon causes include stroke, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, dementia or spinal cord injury.
There is urgency that occurs with or without urge incontinence. It often involves daytime frequency and the need to wake up at night to urinate. It is a diagnosis of exclusion – when no identifiable cause is found. Mixed incontinence There is involuntary leakage of urine associated with both urgency and exertion – mixed features of stress and urge incontinence.
This is usually due to chronic bladder outflow obstruction – when the bladder is very full but unable to empty. It may be more common in diabetic or stroke patients. It also occurs commonly after deliveries or pelvic surgeries. It can affect kidney function if left untreated. Therefore, early assessment and intervention are required.
There is continuous leakage of urine. This may be due to a fistulous track between the vagina and the ureter, or bladder, or urethra, which may be caused by infection, tumours or previous surgery.