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Incontinence denotes a medical condition where urine passes from the bladder, accidentally or involuntarily. The term also describes a situation where faeces or wind escapes from the bowel without control. While the former is referred to as Urinary Incontinence, the latter is referred to as faecal or bowel Incontinence.

Incontinence afflicts a number of individuals, while the degree of severity ranges from ‘just the occasional, small leak’ to a wholesale loss of bladder and/or bowel control. In Australia, the condition is twice as common in women as in men. Statistics also show that over 5 million Australians, aged 15 and above, are incontinent, with 80 percent of the cases involving women.

Types of Incontinence

Incontinence is classified into the following groups:

Urge Incontinence

Urge Incontinence follows from an overactive bladder. An overactive bladder is a condition in which the individual always feels the urge/need to urinate. This frequent need to urinate may occur during the day, at night or both. Where there is loss bladder control, the victim suffers from Urge Incontinence.

Stress Incontinence arises from the openings of the bladder experiencing a weakness or insufficient strength in exercising control over the passage of urine.

Overflow Incontinence denotes the involuntary release of urine, from a bladder that is mostly overfull. This type of continence usually occurs without a corresponding need/urge to urinate.

Functional Incontinence denotes a situation in which the victim senses the urge to urinate but he/she is unable to relieve themselves as a result of a physical and/or mental disability. In this instance, the loss of urine ranges from small leakages to a complete evacuation of the bladder.


Causes of Incontinence

Incontinence( urine) arises from either urologic or non-urologic sources. The former breaks into bladder or urethral dysfunction and comprises such disorders as detrusor overactivity, poor bladder compliance, urethral hypermobility or intrinsic sphincter deficiency.  Non-urological causes cover issues with infection, medication, psychological factors, stool impaction and movement disability among others. In more broader terms, the following constitute other causes of Incontinence:

  •    An enlarged prostate is the most common cause of incontinence in men, predisposing victims to the condition from age 40 years and above.
  •    Illnesses like Multiple sclerosis, Parkison’s disease, Strokes and Spinal cord damage precipitate Incontinence, especially when the nerves controlling the bladder are affected.
  •    Women experiencing Incontinence as a result of vaginal childbirth.


The physician conducts a series of tests to determine the type, severity and possible cause of Incontinence in the patient. The test commonly employed involves the measurement of bladder capacity and residual urine to reveal whether the muscles of the bladder are working effectively.

Further tests that may be  considered may include a stress test, urine analysis, blood analysis, Ultrasound, cystoscope as well as Urodynamics.

Management and Treatment

Depending on the type and severity of the incontinence in question, the medical professional may recommend a singular course of treatment or a mixture of interventions. These treatment options range from conservative methods, behavior management, bladder retraining, collecting mechanism, exercise, medications as well as surgery.


You can make an appointment with Dr Kenny on 07 3188 5000.

This article is written to be informative and does not substitute seeking a professional consultation from a medical professional.

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