Types of Incontinence, Voiding Dysfunction, and the Impact of the Aging Process
By Eric Widera, MD, Assistant Clinical Professor in the Division of Geriatrics at the University of California, San Francisco
Dr. Widera has disclosed that he has no financial interests related to this topic.
Urinary incontinence is defined as any involuntary leakage of urine. It is a common problem that remains undetected and untreated in many individuals. Urinary incontinence can also lead to significant physical, functional, and psychological impairments, as well as a diminished quality of life.
Urinary incontinence can be classified into a number of clinical types that may help in the diagnosis and treatment of the condition. The five types of urinary incontinence to consider include the following: Urgency urinary incontinence (UUI) happens when there is leakage of urine while feeling a sudden urge to urinate. It is most commonly due to involuntary and inappropriate contractions of the bladder muscle. Stress urinary incontinence (SUI) occurs when weakened pelvic floor muscles lead to leakage of urine when one coughs, laughs, sneezes, or otherwise increases pressure on the bladder. Mixed incontinence is a combination of both stress and urgency urinary incontinence. Overflow urinary incontinence is the term used to describe the urinary leakage associated with incomplete bladder emptying. This is often due to impaired bladder muscle contractions or obstruction at the bladder outlet. Lastly, functional incontinence occurs when one recognizes the need to urinate but cannot make it to the bathroom in time due to functional limitations. Reasons people have functional incontinence include arthritis, dementia, poor eyesight, neuropathies, or other reasons that lead to poor mobility.
About the Author:
Dr. Eric Widera is assistant clinical professor in the Division of Geriatrics, the director of the Hospice & Palliative Care Service at the San Francisco VA Medical Center, and the associate program director for the Hospice and Palliative Medicine Fellowship at UCSF. He is a recipient of a Geriatric Academic Career Award (GACA).