Bladder weakness

The term bladder weakness is used more frequently in everyday life than the word urinary incontinence. Both terms mean exactly the same condition: the patient has – partially or completely – lost the ability to control the urinary bladder.
On the one hand, this can mean that the urine loss cannot be stopped (urinary incontinence) or that the bladder cannot be completely emptied (urinary retention).

What it means to have bladder weakness

Patients with bladder weakness not only suffer from physical stress, but also from mental stress. These include, among others:

  • Strong urge to urinate that occurs suddenly
  • Frequent urge to urinate at night and the resulting interrupted sleep several times
  • A constant fear of not being able to go to the toilet in time

It's not just older people who can be affected by bladder weakness. Losing control of your bladder can also occur in younger people and can have a variety of causes.

The respective causes depend on the form of bladder weakness.

Forms of bladder weakness

If some patients only lose a few drops of urine when sneezing, coughing or laughing, a severe form of urinary incontinence can mean that the affected person experiences sudden and complete emptying of the bladder. These very different symptoms show how diverse bladder weakness can be.

The different forms can also occur in combination and are favored by various factors. Here we have listed the most common forms:

Stress incontinence

In most cases, this form of urinary incontinence describes damage or changes to the muscles or tissue around the bladder, urethra and pelvic floor. This leads to a weakening of the entire area. This usually occurs with increasing age or as a late consequence of pregnancies and births.

If the bladder is well filled and the pressure inside the bladder is stronger than the surrounding muscles, urine loss occurs. Strenuous movements or sudden muscle tension caused by coughing, sneezing or being startled can also trigger this.

Urge incontinence

This form of urinary incontinence can hardly be described as bladder weakness because it is due to overactivity of the bladder. However, the overactive bladder muscle cannot be controlled by the patient and uncontrolled urine loss occurs. Bladder infections, nerve damage or neurological diseases such as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's or Parkinson's are common.

Overflow incontinence

Men are often affected by overflow incontinence. The urethra is narrowed and prevents the normal flow of urine. Instead, the bladder empties continuously and drop by drop, leaving the bladder overfull and overstretched. This urinary retention can have a long-term negative impact on the kidneys. Common causes of overflow incontinence are bladder stones, a narrowing of the urethra caused by an enlarged prostate or tumors.