Different Types of Incontinence and How to Deal with Them as a Carer

As a carer, you'll want to give your loved one the best care possible. Knowing the specific type of incontinence they have will better enable you to provide them with the right products for their situation. This will help them to manage their condition more effectively, meaning they'll feel much more comfortable and confident.
 
Below, we describe seven different types of incontinence, some unique to women, other men. Read on for an explanation of the most common types, including stress incontinence, urge incontinence and functional incontinence
Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI)
Usually shortened to stress incontinence, SUI is the most common type for women, making up only around 10% of male incontinence. It often happens when the pelvic floor muscles that support the bladder become weakened, when you laugh or cough, you'll find that pressure on your bladder increases, which may result in leaks as the pelvic floor muscles are unable to tighten enough to contain all the urine.
Urge Incontinence

This is also known as “overactive bladder”. It happens when you have a sudden urge to urinate and the bladder automatically expels urine, without you being able to stop it. Usually the body gives little, if any, warning and there can be quite a large amount of urine leakage. 

The average person empties their bladder between four and eight times a day. Does your loved one need to urinate more often than that? Do they wake several times during the night, on a regular basis, to go to the toilet? These could be signs of urge incontinence.

Other types of incontinence
  • Functional Incontinence
    Some people can’t reach the bathroom in time because of difficulties caused by a physical or mental illness. They have what’s called functional incontinence.   

  • Mixed Incontinence
    This is usually a combination of stress incontinence and urge incontinence, with one being more noticeable than the other.

  • Neurological Bladder Disorders
    With some people, their brain can’t communicate properly with their bladder. As a result, they can’t control their bladder or empty it completely. Neurological bladder disorders like this can be caused by any number of illnesses. If you think your loved one might have this type of incontinence, try not to jump to conclusions. Instead, take her or him to see a doctor as soon as possible for a professional diagnosis.
  • Post-micturition dribble
    Post-micturition dribble is when a man's bladder (urethra) doesn't empty completely and continues to leak after urinating. It’s common with weakened pelvic floor muscles. 

  • Overflow incontinence
    If a man is suffering from a constant or episodic flow of urine, they have overflow incontinence. It’s can be caused by an obstruction or nerve damage. 
  • If you're looking for tips on dealing with these different types of incontinence, take a look at our guide on helping your loved one with their condition.
If you're looking for tips on dealing with these different types of incontinence, take a look at our guide on helping your loved one with their condition.

Unsure about symptoms?

Sometimes it can be difficult to distinguish between the different types of incontinence, and tell which one your loved one is experiencing. We'd always recommend contacting a doctor to get a proper diagnosis and advice on managing your loved one's condition.
 
Another tip if you're unsure about your loved one's incontinence symptoms is to try keeping a diary to record their urination pattern for a week or two. You'll then have a record to discuss with your doctor. 
 
Recognizing the different types of urinary incontinence is the first step to making sure your loved one gets the care they need. For specially designed products to manage bladder weakness, visit our full range for men and women, some of which are available to purchase online from the TENA store.
 
For more information on looking after an incontinence sufferer, have a look at the rest of our articles for carers.