Types of Incontinence and How to Manage Them

February 07, 2018
Types of Incontinence and How to Manage Them
Published on  Updated on  

Incontinence is the loss of bladder control that is a common condition, especially in the process of aging. Approximately 3.3 million Canadians live with urinary or bowel incontinence. This incontinence may be caused or influenced by different factors including dementia, stroke, prostate issues, weakened muscles, or even as a side effect to using certain medications.

Some people experience minor or occasional leaks of urine, others feel this sensation more frequently and feel as though they are not in complete control of their bladder or bowels. If you feel that incontinence is impacting your day to day life, contact your doctor to discuss options or available treatments. The following are the most common types of incontinence and management strategies.

1. Stress Incontinence

These urine leaks are often an acute problem rather than a chronic occurrence. The minor leaks of urine can be a result of laughing, coughing, exercising, or any number of day-to-day activities. This form of incontinence rarely interferes with one’s daily life.

Symptoms include:

  • Bladder leakage with coughs, sneezes, or physical activity
  • Bladder leakage in small amounts without the sensation of urine loss  
  • No nocturnal incontinence

Management Option:

This form of incontinence doesn’t usually require a form of management since it’s situational rather than chronic. If it does interfere with your daily life you can use a thin and absorbent pad.


TENA Pads Moderate with Aloe Vera

Shop TENA Pads >>

2. Urge Incontinence

Urge incontinence results from a sudden and intense urge to urinate followed by a loss of control. This urge can be a symptom of an infection like a urinary tract infection (UTI). It causes not only an urge, but an increased frequency of urges to urinate. Diabetes can also contribute to this symptomatic incontinence.


Symptoms include:

  • Strong urgency prior to incontinence
  • More frequency of urination
  • Incontinence at night more than 2 times
  • Urine loss on the way to the bathroom
  • Moderate to large amount of leakage

Management Option:

Due to the larger amount of leakage that occur with urge incontinence, it’s important to be prepared with an extra absorbent management option. Select briefs with moderate to heavy leakage security that can be worn under clothing with ease during physical activities.


Abena Abri-Form Air Plus Brief

Shop Abena >>

3. Overflow Incontinence

This form of incontinence is characterized by the constant dribble of urine from the bladder. When someone urinates and their bladder is not completely emptied, overflow incontinence can happen periodically throughout the day.

Symptoms include:

  • Difficulty starting urine streams
  • Weak or intermittent stream (dribbles)
  • Post-void bladder dribbling
  • Prolonged bladder voiding
  • Feeling of fullness after bladder voiding
  • Voiding small bladder amounts often

Management Option:

This form of incontinence is usually light to moderate in leakage. This means the management option can be light-coverage while also using a catheter to help to fully empty the bladder and avoid urinary retention. This tube drains urine from the bladder to prevent overflow.


Coloplast SpeediCath Male Nelaton 16"

Shop Coloplast >>

4. Functional Incontinence

Functional incontinence is not a mechanical issue of the bladder or urethra, this form of incontinence is when a physical or mental impairment prevents you from making it to the washroom in time. A physical disability or condition like arthritis could make it more difficult to go to the washroom.


Symptoms include:

  • Mobility/manual dexterity impairments (arthritis, tendonitis in hands)
  • Lack of toilet access
  • Medication usage (sedative, hypnotic, CNS diuretic, anticholinergic, alpha-adrenergic antagonist)
  • Pain with movements

Management Option:

If you as an individual are unable to make it to the toilet due to a functional health issue, it’s important to feel comfortable wherever you are. You can wear these pull ups like normal underwear and have the ultimate solution when you’re unable to make it to the washroom.


Abena Abri-Flex Premium Pullups

Shop Abena Premium >>

5. Bowel Incontinence

This form of incontinence affects the bowels rather than the bladder. There is an instability in the rectum that causes a loss of control over bowel movements. This can be caused by injury, constipation, or damage from childbirth.


  • Leakage of stool when passing gas
  • Watery or partial bowel discharge
  • Complete bowel discharge
  • Pain with bowel movements

Management Option:

Peristeen Anal Plugs

Shop Peristeen >>

6. Night-Time Incontinence

This form of incontinence is the loss of bladder control during one’s sleep cycles. This is called “enuresis” in youth and is more common in children under the age of 10. Night-time incontinence is also a condition that adults suffer from, especially when plagued with stress.


  • Behavioural changes
  • Decline in physical endurance
  • Listlessness
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Knowledge deficits
  • Impaired mobility
  • Decreased physical, emotional, or cognitive abilities

Management Option:

If you experience incontinence at night, you can be prepared with an overnight diaper and mattress cover. This protection will ensure that you can dispose of your diaper and not have to dispose of your sheets or mattress. Sleep without interruptions knowing you are covered.

Tranquility Premium OverNight

Shop Tranquility >>

MedPro Quilted Reusable Underpad

Shop MedPro Underpad >>



Healthwick. “Incontinence Information.” Learning Centre. Retrieved from https://www.healthwick.ca/incontinence-information/

Mayo Clinic. “Urinary Incontinence.” Diseases and conditions. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/urinary-incontinence/symptoms-causes/syc-20352808

Published on  Updated on  

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.