Incontinence 101 - Types, Causes and How to Manage It

Incontinence is a loss of bladder control (urinary incontinence) and bowel control (defecation incontinence) which can cause accidental leakage of urine and waste. There is a wide variety of factors and causes that can bring about incontinence and if it is not managed well, it can significantly impact one’s quality of life and ability to do regular activities.

Potential Causes

Urinary incontinence is a problem in the nerves and muscles which help hold and release urine. Here are the five different types of urinary incontinence and some of the causes:

  1. Stress incontinence. This is the most common urinary incontinence wherein urine unintentionally leaks when pressure is applied to the bladder, i.e., when coughing, sneezing, lifting heavy objects, laughing, and exercising. Weak pelvic floor muscles cause this condition.
  2. Urge incontinence. This is also known as Overactive Bladder (OAB). This occurs when there is a strong urge to urinate or defecate immediately and frequently before you can reach a bathroom. It is commonly caused by bladder infection, bladder inflammation (such as urinary tract infection), or presence of bladder stones.
  3. Overflow incontinence. This occurs when the bladder is full and cannot be emptied which causes involuntary urine leaks. This condition may be due to conditions that block the urine flow such as tumors or an enlarged prostrate damage
  4. Functional incontinence. This form of incontinence involves a lack of physical or mental capacity to reach the bathroom before urinating or defecating. People with severe disabilities, such as hip fractures and dementia, may have this type of incontinence.
  5. Total incontinence. This is the most severe type of incontinence where there is a continuous and complete loss of urinary and fecal control. An inborn abnormality of the bladder, a spinal cord injury or a formation of fistula (an abnormal connection) between the bladder and vagina, or a complication of resection of the prostate may cause this condition.

Fecal incontinence, on the other handis the inability to control bowel movements, causing you to leak solid or liquid stool involuntarily. The severity ranges from an occasional leakage of stool while passing gas to complete loss of bowel control. Some causes of fecal incontinence may include:

Muscle damage to the anus and rectum

Damage to the nerves which control the rectum and anus

Factors that may affect severity and frequency of episodes of urinary and fecal incontinence:

Spicy foods, chocolates, certain acidic fruits like oranges, lemons and grapefruits, or beverages with caffeine and alcohol are considered bladder irritants causing the kidneys to produce more urine. These types of foods and drinks can worsen the condition if taken continuously.

Some medications and supplements can also influence the production of urine and relaxation of muscles, leading to incontinence. Medications commonly used for blood pressure management are known to increase urine output.

Obesity is associated with decreased pelvic floor muscle strength.

Vaginal delivery can stretch out the pelvic floor muscles and the muscles of the rectum.

Smoking is a risk factor in thinning collagen in tissues and is associated with urinary and fecal incontinence.

Frequent straining caused by constipation and inadequate liquid intake, as well as prolonged bathroom breaks to defecate, can lead to hemorrhoids and fecal incontinence.


If you have problems with incontinence, it is important to speak with your doctor. Nevertheless, the quickest way to manage incontinence is to use incontinence products.

Incontinence products come in various styles and sizes designed to give comfort and protection – whether actively moving about or less mobile. One of the most common incontinence products in the market is adult diaper like Caress Adult Diaper Basic; it has a super absorbent pad with Liquid Distribution Layer (LDL) that draws the liquid away from the skin keeping it dry.  It also has leak-guards to protect from leaks as well as antibiosis to prevent bed sores and deodorization to neutralize odor. One may also try using Caress Adult Diaper Overnight Maxi; it has the same product features Caress Adult Diaper Basic but with longer and wider super absorbent pad providing a long-lasting and higher protection for a sound sleep overnight without the hassle of changing.

Another option available in a different format are adult like Hy-Pants Adult Underwear and Secure Adult Pull-up Pants which can be worn just like an underwear; both are perfect for active and on-the -go individuals. Hy-Pants Adult Underwear is specially designed for active and on-the-go individuals with light incontinence. It has a slim absorbent magic core and is breathable allowing incontinents to wear it under regular clothing, helping them to move freely and comfortably. Another brand of an adult underwear available in the market is Secure Adult Pull-up Pants; it has the same product feature of Hy-Pants Adult Underwear but is specially designed for moderate to heavy incontinence sufferers because it has a super absorbent pad with high volume absorbent capacity for leak protection.

One may also consider using underpads like Caress Underpads. It is a cloth-like wet-proof mat with quilted channels that distribute the wetness across the pad and allow quicker absorption, preventing your mattress and sheets from being soiled.

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