Incontinence is something many people live with. Some people may not even know they’re living with it or are running the risk of developing it.

To help you out, we’ve highlighted everything you need to know when to comes to spotting the signs of incontinence, the different types and the causes of incontinence below.

Signs and symptoms of urinary incontinence

When it comes to spotting the signs of incontinence, there isn’t one overarching symptom. No, there are several you could experience that you should look out for.

These symptoms can include:

  • Wetting the bed as you sleep
  • A sudden, strong urge to urinate right away
  • Leaking urine without the urge or any prior warning
  • Being unable to reach a toilet in time
  • Leaking urine during everyday activities, such as lifting, exercising, bending or coughing

Just as there isn’t one symptom when it comes to incontinence, there isn’t just one type of incontinence either.

Type of urinary incontinence

Although there are various forms of urinary incontinence, the most common are stress and urge incontinence.

Stress incontinence

This is when you leak urine due to your bladder being put under any extra, sudden pressure and not when you’re feeling stressed. This extra pressure could occur when coughing, sneezing, laughing, heavy lifting or exercise.

Mostly, the amount of urine passed will be small but could be larger if you have a full bladder.

Urge incontinence

This is when you feel a sudden, intense urge to pass urine, but can’t delay going to the toilet. Usually, there will be a matter of seconds between feeling the urge and the release of urine. It can be triggered by several things, such as changing position suddenly and can even occur during sex.

Alongside the sudden urge to urinate, it can also cause you to pass urine frequently and even require you to use the toilet several times throughout the night.

Other forms of incontinence

While the above are the two most common, there are four other types of incontinence, which are:

  • Mixed incontinence – this is where you experience a combination of both urge and stress incontinence. Meaning you could pass urine when coughing alongside sudden, intense urges too
  • Overflow incontinence – this is when the bladder doesn’t completely empty, resulting in you passing small trickles of urine frequently
  • Functional incontinence – this type of incontinence can occur when you have a mental or physical impairment that can keep you from making it to the toilet in time
  • Total incontinence – this is when incontinence is both severe and constant, causing you to pass large amounts of urine during the day and night or large amounts occasionally with small leaks in-between

Causes of incontinence

The main thing to know about urinary incontinence is it isn’t a disease, but a symptom. While you may be wondering what it’s a symptom of, it’s important to note there are many causes of incontinence ranging from medical conditions to family history and daily habits.

While an examination from a doctor can help to determine the cause of your incontinence, you’ll find several causes of incontinence below.

Temporary urinary incontinence

Incontinence is something many people live with day-to-day but it isn’t always that way, and sometimes it can be temporary, which happens due to certain drinks, foods and medications. Causes of this can include:

  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Chilli peppers
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Carbonated drinks
  • Food high in fats, acids or sugar
  • Heart and blood pressure medications, muscle relaxants and sedatives
  • Large amounts of vitamin C

Persistent urinary incontinence

However, for many people, urinary incontinence is a persistent condition, which occurs due to underlying physical issues, long and short-term health problems or physical changes. These can include:

  • Pregnancy
  • Childbirth
  • Ageing
  • Menopause
  • Hysterectomy
  • Enlarged prostate
  • Prostate cancer
  • Blocked urinary tract (tumour or stone)
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Stroke
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Neurological disorders
  • Obesity
  • Birth defects
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Chronic or long-lasting coughing
  • Diabetes
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Anxiety
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Constipation
  • Physical inactivity
  • Smoking


What if it’s not treated?

As you can see, some forms of urinary incontinence can be temporary but many of them can be long-lasting and there are several ways that it can happen.

If you feel like you’re experiencing any of the below, then you should consult your GP:

  • You can’t empty your bladder
  • Can’t pass urine
  • You see blood
  • You’re experiencing painful urination
  • You urinate more than eight times a day

Without seeking help, you won’t know if it’s anything serious, or if it can be fixed through simple lifestyle adjustments. If left unchecked it could lead to problems in your everyday life and even other health problems such as urinary tract infections and skin problems, such as infections.

If you need any help or advice regarding urinary incontinence you can contact us Monday – Friday between 9 am and 5 pm on 01204 895410, and a member of our team will be more than happy to help.