Incontinence is suffered by millions of people worldwide. There are many different causes for incontinence, and while some fall neatly into one category or another, others, like mixed incontinence, do not. For example, stress incontinence is triggered by pressure to the abdomen, like a sudden sneeze or laugh. This type of incontinence is usually the result of weak or damaged pelvic floor muscles.
Another type of incontinence is known as urge incontinence, which presents as a sudden and overwhelming need to go to the bathroom. However, some people actually have symptoms of both of these types of incontinence, and when they do it is known as mixed incontinence.
The symptoms of mixed incontinence are exactly what one would expect, where symptoms from each type of incontinence, stress and urge, can manifest themselves. The symptoms and severity varies from person to person; however, mixed incontinence always shows signs of both stress incontinence and urge incontinence. One type may be more strongly indicated than the other, but if shared symptoms exist, then the condition is known as mixed incontinence.
Just as mixed incontinence shares the symptoms of stress and urge incontinence, it also shares the causes. Since stress incontinence is typically caused by weak or damaged pelvic floor muscles, the number one contributor to a condition of stress incontinence is pregnancy and childbirth. This is why a disproportionately large number of women suffer from incontinence. Other factors that can contribute to stress incontinence is surgery, medication, lower hormone levels as found in menopause, a smoker’s cough, or just about anything the strains or damages the pelvic floor muscles.
Typically a result of nerve damage, urge incontinence can be caused by surgery, stroke, injury or disease, like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s or multiple sclerosis. Diabetes and hyperthyroidism can also exacerbate the symptoms of urge incontinence.
Mixed incontinence may be a little tricky to diagnose properly, because of the overlapping symptoms, so it is always best to enlist the aid of a healthcare professional when determining the type and causes of an incontinence problem. When discussing an incontinence problem with a physician, be prepared to answer questions relating to the problem. The type of information that a physician will be looking for is patterns of eating and drinking, patterns of urination, and patterns of leakage or accidents. In understanding the patterns and the relationship between the patterns, a doctor can devise a plan for treatment, and often this type of incontinence can be successfully treated.
When diagnosing incontinence, a physician typically will want to make a physical examination of the patient and search for any nerve damage that may be present. Depending on what the doctor discovers, it may be advisable to also seek the council of a neurologist, or a doctor may perform more specific testing. Once the doctor has determined the underlying cause of the incontinence, he or she will be able to recommend a course of treatment.
Since mixed incontinence is exactly what it says, a mix of two different types of incontinence, it may very well need to be approached from several different angles. Since there is not one, cookie cutter solution for everyone, a doctor looks at the complete patient before making a recommendation, considering age, lifestyle and severity of the condition.
Treatment for mixed incontinence can be any one or combination of the the classic treatments for stress incontinence or urge incontinence, which range from Kegel exercises to surgery and everything in between.
Filed under: Mixed Incontinence