Reviewed by Rishi Desai, MD, MPH
Urinary incontinence is any involuntary leakage of urine that is often a result of an underlying medical condition but is under-reported to medical practitioners. Enuresis is often used to refer to urinary incontinence in children (e.g. nocturnal enuresis, commonly known as bed wetting). There are four main types of incontinence:
- Urge incontinence due to an overactive bladder
- Stress incontinence due to poor closure of the bladder
- Overflow incontinence due to either poor bladder contraction or blockage of the urethra
- Functional incontinence due to medications or health problems making it difficult to reach the bathroom
Individuals with stress incontinence have involuntary leakage of urine that occurs with increases in intra-abdominal pressure (eg, with exertion, sneezing, coughing, laughing) in the absence of a bladder contraction. It is most common in younger women, with the highest incidence in women ages 45 to 49 years.
Overflow incontinence typically presents with continuous urinary leakage or dribbling in the setting of incomplete bladder emptying. Associated symptoms can include weak or intermittent urinary stream, hesitancy, frequency, and nocturia.
Patients with urgency incontinence experience the urge to void immediately preceding or accompanied by involuntary leakage of urine. "Overactive bladder" is a term that describes a syndrome of urinary urgency with or without incontinence, which is often accompanied by nocturia and urinary frequency. The terms "urgency incontinence" and "overactive bladder with incontinence" are often used interchangeably.