Urinary (or bladder) incontinence is when you are not able to keep urine from leaking from your urethra, the tube that carries urine out of your body from your bladder. It can range from an occasional leakage of urine, to a complete inability to hold any urine.
The three main types of urinary incontinence are:
Stress incontinence-- occurs during certain activities like coughing, sneezing, laughing, or exercise.
Urge incontinence-- involves a strong, sudden need to urinate followed by instant bladder contraction and involuntary loss of urine. You don't have enough time between when you recognize the need to urinate and when you actually do urinate.
- Overflow incontinence -- occurs when the bladder cannot empty completely, which leads to dribbling.
- Mixed incontinence -- involves more than one type of urinary incontinence.
Loss of bladder control; Uncontrollable urination; Urination - uncontrollable; Incontinence - urinary
Incontinence is most common among the elderly. Women are more likely than men to have urinary incontinence.
Infants and children are not considered incontinent, but merely untrained, up to the time of toilet training. Occasional accidents are not unusual in children up to age 6 years. Young (and sometimes teenage) girls may have slight leakage of urine when laughing.
Nighttime urination in children is normal until the age of 5 or 6.
Review Date: 08/30/2009
Reviewed By: Louis S. Liou, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Urology, Department of Surgery, Boston University School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.