Not all leaks are the same. Sometimes they are small, sometimes large. Sometimes they come without warning and sometimes they just come. If you suffer from any type of incontinence at all then you know just how awful these leaks can be. There are, though, very real differences between Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI) and Urge Incontinence. Both cause leaks, but they are triggered by different factors.
Stress Urinary IncontinenceStress Urinary Incontinence (SUI) is described as the sudden involuntary loss of urine caused by pressure or “stress”, which can be as minimal as a sneeze or cough. SUI can be caused by any number of factors including the most common, which is childbirth for women (with age, obesity, smoking and other illnesses contributing to the commonality, as well as long-term high impact activities). This is due to the weakening or loss of muscle, nerves, and surrounding tissue in the pelvic floor. Stress incontinence occurs when the muscles and other tissues that support the bladder (pelvic floor muscles) and the muscles that regulate the release of urine (urinary sphincter) weaken. The bladder expands as it fills with urine. Normally, valve-like muscles in the urethra — the short tube that carries urine out of your body — stay closed as the bladder expands, preventing urine leakage until you reach a bathroom. But when those muscles weaken, anything that exerts a force on the abdominal and pelvic muscles — sneezing, bending over, lifting, laughing hard, for instance — can put pressure on your bladder and cause urine leakage.
Urge Incontinence IS NOT Stress RelatedUrge incontinence is also referred to as overactive bladder. It can be caused by any number of things, but it comes with a sudden urge to urinate. There could be various reasons one may develop urge incontinence, and it often becomes difficult for a healthcare provider to pinpoint an exact cause. However, some potential causes could include:
- a bladder infection
- an obstruction of the opening of the bladder
- bladder cancer
- diseases of the nervous system, such as multiple sclerosis
- an injury to the nervous system, such as trauma to the spinal cord or a stroke