Urinary incontinence is the medical term for the accidental leakage of urine. Though many shy away from discussing this topic, there is no shame in having what some would call a “leaky bladder.” Urinary incontinence can be caused by a number of reasons and it affects both men and women at any point in their lives. While only a doctor can diagnose what kind of incontinence you suffer from, here is some clarification to help you better understand the differences between acute and reflux urinary incontinence.

Acute Urinary Incontinence

Urinary incontinence is not a disease but rather a symptom caused by many other conditions. Acute urinary incontinence can be broken into four main types: urge incontinence, stress incontinence, overflow incontinence, and functional incontinence.

Urge Incontinence

As the name implies, urge incontinence is a condition that is caused by an overactive bladder. Constantly feeling the need to urinate can have negative effects on a person’s daily life due to planning numerous bathroom trips and feeling general discomfort.

Stress Incontinence

Stress incontinence occurs when insufficient strength prevents the bladder from fully closing. Coughing, sneezing, laughing and exercise can cause pressure on the bladder, allowing small amounts of urine to drip out.

Overflow Incontinence

Categorized by the involuntary release of urine without warning, overflow incontinence often occurs when sphincter muscles cannot contain a full bladder. The inability to fully empty one’s bladder may also result in overflow leaks. People who have a bladder blockage, such as narrow ureters or prostate cancer, are typically more affected by this type of incontinence.

Functional Incontinence

Although your urinary tract may be functioning properly, functional incontinence occurs when other illnesses or disabilities prevent you from making it to the bathroom in time. Although conditions such as dementia or arthritis decrease your ability to make it to a bathroom, any person can be affected.

Reflux Incontinence

Vesicoureteral reflux is the medical term that describes the abnormal flow of urine from your bladder back up to the kidneys. There are two different types of vesicoureteral reflux, which develop in different ways. Primary vesicoureteral reflux is caused by a congenital birth defect that affects the functional valve between the ureters and bladder, which is meant to prevent urine from flowing backward. The cause of this type of reflux is unknown but tends to be a genetic condition. Children with primary reflux tend to outgrow this condition as ureters lengthen and straighten out with age.

Secondary vesicoureteral reflux is the result of excessive nerve damage caused by the bladder failing to completely empty. As mentioned previously, there are a number of causes for this. If left untreated, secondary reflux can cause serious damage to your kidneys. When your bladder fills, excess urine can be stopped and flow back up through your ureters towards the kidneys. Urine is not meant to travel this way and urinary tract infections can quickly develop. Untreated UTIs have the potential to cause reflux nephropathy (kidney scarring), which is permanent damage to the kidney. Excessive scarring can affect the filtering function of the kidney and can lead to acute kidney failure.

When to See a Doctor

Although most common among older men and women, urinary incontinence is not an inevitable condition. Incontinence is treatable and best addressed as early on as possible before more serious illnesses can develop. An increased urge to urinate, burning sensation or pain when urinating, blood in the urine, fever, abdominal pain, and cloudy urine with a strong unpleasant smell are all signs that you may have an infection.

Find a Urologist Near You in Livingston, NJ

Discussing urinary incontinence may be embarrassing but scheduling your life around the nearest bathroom is no way to live. With over 25 years of experience in the field and board-certified, Dr. Ron S. Israeli can help you with all of your urological needs. After examination and comprehensive lab tests, Dr. Israeli will walk you through an individualized treatment plan to ensure you the quickest and most effective recovery. Forget about searching for the “best urologist near me,” and schedule your appointment with Dr. Israeli by contacting us today!