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  • Writer's pictureCarly Oliff

What is incontinence?

Updated: Nov 12, 2020

Incontinence is the loss of bladder or bowel control. There are many different types of incontinence. The types we most commonly see include:

  • Stress Incontinence: when patients have difficulty with stress incontinence changes in intra-abdominal pressure can cause incontinence. Laughing, coughing, sneezing are high pressure activities that may cause urine to escape. Lifting, squatting, jumping, or general change in position also causes a change in pressure and can stress the bladder into leakage.

  • Urge Incontinence: occurs when a person experiences a sudden, strong desire to urinate that cannot be postponed. This can be an environmental occurrence such as whenever your garage door goes up, as soon as you turn the shower on, or when you step into a pool. Urge incontinence can also cause the need to urinate frequently and waking during the night to urinate.

  • Mixed Incontinence: is a combination of Stress and Urge incontinence.

  • Fecal Incontinence: Bowel leakage or fecal incontinence is the accidental passing of bowel movements. This can include solid stools, liquid stools, or mucus from the anus. Fecal incontinence can occur when you feel a strong urge to have a bowel movement but cannot stop it before reaching a toilet. This can happen because the pelvic floor muscles may be too weak to hold back a bowel movement due to muscle injury or nerve damage. Fecal incontinence can also occur more passively. Leakage can occur without you knowing it, your body may not be able to sense when the rectum is full and does not trigger you to go to the bathroom.

Urinary and fecal incontinence can be treated with pelvic floor therapy. Your therapist will help you develop your sensation, coordination, strength, and control of your pelvic floor to ensure you are in charge of your bowel and bladder habits.

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