As we get old, we lose control over our own body. One such affliction of old age is incontinence. It is characterized by the loss of control over excretion of feces and urine. Hence bladder and bowel movement does not remain under the control of the elderly. Though, incontinence is more common in the elderly, but can affect people of other ages too. Incontinence is not a disease but may be a symptom of some other diseases.
Different Types of Incontinence
There are 2 types of incontinence;
The first of types of incontinence is urinary incontinence which is characterized by loss of control on urination, or the loss of control on bladder. It is a common condition and very embarrassing. Urinary incontinence can be of varying degrees. It may be mild, e.g. leaking while laughing, or of severe degree causing immediate urge for urination which one can’t stand until he or she rushes to washroom immediately. Urinary incontinence not only affects elderly but can also be experienced due to childbirth or in menopause. Once you start experiencing signs of incontinence, you should immediately see a doctor. There are no specific symptoms of urinary incontinence except the immediate need to urinate and sometimes the wetting of clothes and bed because of no time to go to washroom.
Types of Urinary Incontinence
Urinary incontinence can be of several different types;
- Stress Incontinence
It is related to pressure. Pressure here does not mean mental stress, rather it is more of physical stress, like picking up heavy objects, coughing, laughing, and sneezing. Stress incontinence is a result of weak sphincter muscles which cannot control bladder movement. In women, this condition is usually experienced after childbirth, pregnancy or on the start of menopause, while in men it is experienced after removal of prostate.
- Urge Incontinence
It is characterized by the strong urge to urinate which doesn’t give you enough time even to get to washroom. It gives the victim only a few seconds time and then he loses control. It may be a result of urinary infection, bladder irritation, bowel problem, or nervous disorders like MS, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease or even stroke and injuries. Urge incontinence is also known by the name of overactive bladder.
- Overflow Incontinence
It is a condition whereby the sufferer keeps on leaking urine. It is caused due to bladder’s inability to empty itself completely and hence it overflows. It is generally experienced by those with damaged bladder or in men having prostate problems.
- Mixed Incontinence
A person is said to have mixed incontinence when he suffers from more than one types of incontinence e.g. urge incontinence and stress incontinence. In this case, one type of incontinence is severer than the other.
- Functional Incontinence
It is more common in elderly and is characterized by the loss of physical and mental function.
- Gross Total Incontinence
It is a complete failure of bladder to perform any of its functions at all. It can be a result of many problems like birth defect, injury or bladder capacity problem.
It is the second of types of incontinence whereby the control over bowel movement is lost and it results in the unexpected excretion of feces from the rectum. Diarrhea, constipation and muscle damage are common reasons behind fecal incontinence. Moreover, old age can be another reason which weakens sphincter muscles. Damage caused during childbirth can also result in fecal incontinence in women. Uncontrollable gas, liquid from bowels and stools are common symptoms of fecal incontinence.