Incontinence: Understanding the Types and Severity

In this video, Dr. B discusses the common issue of urinary incontinence, which is defined as a loss of bladder control. It becomes more prevalent in individuals over the age of 50. There are three classifications of urinary incontinence: stress incontinence, urge incontinence, and overflow incontinence. The severity of incontinence varies, ranging from a few drops to a complete bladder emptying. Dr. B emphasizes the importance of seeking evaluation and treatment if occasional accidents are bothersome, as there are many options available to alleviate the condition. It is advised to have a conversation with a healthcare professional for further guidance.

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Key Insights:

  • Urinary incontinence is defined as a loss of bladder control.
  • It becomes more common as people age, especially after the age of 50.
  • There are three different classifications of urinary incontinence:
    • Stress incontinence: Leakage of urine when coughing, sneezing, or lifting something.
    • Urge incontinence: End stage of overactive bladder, causing frequent urination and sometimes not making it to the bathroom in time.
    • Overflow incontinence: Bladder is unable to empty properly.
  • The severity of incontinence varies, from emptying the entire bladder to just a few drops.
  • If occasional accidents are bothersome, it is recommended to seek evaluation from a doctor.
  • Various treatments are available to help manage and treat urinary incontinence.


Dr. B, when it comes to incontinence, tell us just how common is it and how exactly is it defined medically speaking?

Urinary incontinence is really defined as a loss of bladder control, so these are people who, for whatever reason, can’t control their urine flow completely. The important thing to understand is that it’s seen in many different people and it becomes much more common as people are over the age of 50.

We really look at this in three different classifications. One will be stress incontinence, where somebody will cough, they’ll sneeze, they’ll lift something, and they’ll lose a few drops of urine.

The second will be urge incontinence, which is an end stage of something called overactive bladder, where that patient will get the desire to urinate very often, but they’re making it to the bathroom. Or it becomes more severe, and they’re just not making it in time.

The last that we think about is something called an overflow incontinence, which thankfully is fairly uncommon, but it’s a bladder that’s just not able to empty.

And when we think about severity, it’s a question of how much did they leak. If that person coughed, did they empty their entire bladder, or was it just a few drops? If they got the urge, are they wetting their entire pants, or is it just a little bit that they’re not able to control?

For somebody who’s getting an occasional accident where it’s once every few months, if that’s bothersome to them, going to get an evaluation can very often lead to help. So that you’re not thinking to yourself, what am I going to do at this moment? There are many things that can be done to help with this, so I think it’s worth it to have a conversation with your doctor.