There are many different forms of incontinence - defined as any involuntary loss of urine or fecal matter - and many underlying causes, ranging from weakened pelvic floor muscles to accidents, injuries, or diseases.
The most common types and their symptoms are:
Stress incontinence - affects both women and men, causing the bladder to leak during exercise, coughing, sneezing, laughing, or any other activity that puts pressure on the bladder. Stress incontinence may follow childbirth, menopause or prostate cancer treatment.
Urgency urinary incontinence or overactive bladder - characterized by strong, immediate urges to go to the bathroom, as well as frequent urination. There may also be leakage from the bladder.
Mixed incontinence - very common and occurs when symptoms of both stress and urgency incontinence are present. Symptoms of one type may be more pronounced than the other.
Overflow incontinence - occurs when the quantity of urine produced exceeds the bladder's holding capacity, causing leakage. It can result from a number of conditions, including diabetes, pelvic trauma, pelvic surgery, pelvic organ prolapse or enlarged prostate.
Neurogenic incontinence - often the result of neurological diseases or disorders, including Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, spinal cord injury, stroke, spina bifida and hydrocephalus. Neurogenic bladder is caused by abnormal nerve signals, which triggers leakage or prevents complete emptying of the bladder.