The Differences Between Stress and Urge Incontinence

The Differences Between Stress and Urge Incontinence

If you’re having problems controlling your urine and aren’t sure why, chances are you’re dealing with some form of urinary incontinence.  It’s estimated that between 25-33% of Americans deal with some form of urinary incontinence.

Not understanding what you’re dealing with and why it’s happening can compound the embarrassment a condition like this can create, which can make your social and personal life very difficult. Managing urinary incontinence starts with understanding it, including the type and cause.

Patients in the Fort Lauderdale, Pompano Beach, and South Florida areas dealing with the embarrassment of urinary leakage can get help from Drs. Craig Herman, Steven Kester, and the caring staff at Urology Center of Florida. For over 25 years we have offered top urological care using the latest diagnostic and treatment options available, and we are dedicated to giving patients the best care for their conditions.

Understanding urinary function

Urinary function is controlled by your brain and your urinary bladder, which holds your urine in place until you’re ready to go. The bladder is held in place by your pelvic floor, which is the muscles located in your lower pelvis. When your bladder is acting normally, the smooth muscle of your bladder is relaxed.

With the end of the organ (the neck) closed, the sphincter muscles are also closed around your urethra, the tube that releases urine from your body. When you want to urinate, your brain sends a signal to your bladder, causing the muscles to contract and the sphincter to open up, forcing the urine out of your body. If you have urinary incontinence, you may not be able to control this process.

Incontinence causes

When you’re dealing with incontinence, you are unable to control the flow of urine until you can reach a bathroom. This can be caused by constipation, urinary tract infection (UTI), pregnancy, childbirth, changes with aging, menopause, enlarged prostate, prostate cancer, obstructions in the urinary tract, and neurological disorders.

Your risk of getting this condition can be increased by obesity, smoking, age, gender (women are more likely to deal with most types of incontinence than men), family history and some diseases.

Difference between stress and urge incontinence

Two of the most common types of incontinence are stress and urge incontinence. Though both result in a loss of urinary control, they have distinct causes. Some people have both stress and urge incontinence, a condition called mixed incontinence.

Stress incontinence

Stress incontinence results from urine leaking because of some physical movement that triggers it, such as sneezing, coughing, laughing, running or heavy lifting. These actions can increase stress, or pressure on your bladder, leading to involuntary urination. These physical movements are more likely to cause involuntary urination if your bladder is full.

Urge incontinence

This type of incontinence is marked by sudden, overwhelming urges to urinate. This can also be caused by diseases affecting your nervous system like multiple sclerosis, trauma to your spinal cord, or a stroke. Any of these can affect how your bladder communicates with your brain and cause your bladder to contract at the wrong time.

In many cases, you can adapt through lifestyle changes to manage both stress and urinary incontinence. Dietary changes like reducing alcohol, caffeine, spicy foods, and artificial sweeteners can help, along with behavioral retraining for your bladder like Kegel exercises for your pelvic muscles, scheduling trips to the toilet. Non-surgical medical treatments are available for both types, but surgical methods are common for stress incontinence, for improving closure of the sphincter and supporting the bladder neck.

The first step to manage urine incontinence is understanding which type you have. If you’re dealing with urinary leaking and you need help, make an appointment with Drs. Herman, Kester, and Urology Center of Florida today.

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