Do you have incontinence? Common urinary incontinence symptoms you shouldn’t ignore

Do you have incontinence? Common urinary incontinence symptoms you shouldn’t ignore

  • On October 2, 2017

The NHS defines urinary incontinence as the unintentional passing of urine. However, when recognizing incontinence, it is important to know the difference between having incontinence and urinating after drinking liquid in excess.



Occasionally after drinking large amounts of liquid, having the urge to urinate is normal. However, if you suffer from incontinence you may need to urinate regardless of where you are and what you have had to drink. This can occur even if you have had nothing to drink for hours.  Rather than having the normal urge to go the bathroom, if you suffer from incontinence you may struggle to even make it to the bathroom in time.



Here are the main warning signs you should look out for if you are worried you have incontinence:


> Urinating more than 9 times within a 24 hour period on an average day. The average person can hold around 350 to 550 mL (more than 2 cups) of urine in the bladder. Specialists advise that you should not have to urinate more than 9 times in a day if you have a healthy functioning bladder.


> A full feeling bladder should release more than just a few little drops when you visit the bathroom. If you find you are rushing to the toilet only to release a small amount, this may be a cause for concern.


> Disrupted sleep is a warning sign that you may need to see a professional. This condition is known as Nocturia. Although the risk of developing Nocturia becomes more common as we age, frequent disruptive overnight urges are a common sign of an overactive bladder.


> Accidents that occur prior to getting to the bathroom are a cause for concern. If you have a healthy functioning bladder, you should not find that you suffer from embarrassing leaks in public or struggle to make it to the bathroom.


> Your life should not revolve around finding a bathroom. Do you find yourself immediately looking for restroom locations when you’re in public? Changing locations for a social event or becoming obsessed with finding a route to a bathroom are warning signs that incontinence is impacting your quality of life.




What type of incontinence is it?


If you are showing signs of an overactive bladder, it is useful to be aware of the type of incontinence you may be suffering from. Urinary Incontinence can be divided into different categories. The most different types of incontinence are the following:


Stress incontinence: this is when urine leaks out at times when your bladder is under pressure; for example, when you cough or laugh


Urge incontinence: this is when urine leaks as you feel a sudden, intense urge to pass urine, or soon afterwards


Overflow incontinence: when you have overflow incontinence, you are unable to fully empty your bladder, which causes frequent leaking



If you suspect you have any type of incontinence, you should contact your GP immediately.



Finding the cause of your incontinence


A Doctor or Urologist will be able to help you to pinpoint the cause of your overactive bladder. The most common causes of incontinence are the following:


> Medications (including diuretics (‘water pills’), narcotic pain medications,

medications used for Parkinson’s disease, and some antidepressants)


> Vaginal and/or bladder infections


> Chronic cough from smoking and/or lung disease


> Drinking a large amount of caffeine or alcohol


> Menopause with thinning of vaginal/bladder tissues, sometimes called ‘urogenital atrophy’


> Pelvic relaxation (‘dropped bladder’)


> Prior bladder or pelvic surgery



It is important to note that a urinary tract infection is likely to be causing incontinence if urine leakage is accompanied by:


> Pain during urination


> Pink, red or dark discolouration of your urine


> Urine odour


> Abdominal or back pain



You can read our guide to the causes of incontinence for more advice on identifying a cause of incontinence.