Urge Urinary Incontinence--Part III of V

Sonya Lytwynec, RegN, BScN,
Michael Borrie, BSc, MB, ChB, FRCPC
Southwestern Ontario Regional Geriatric Program: Continence Outreach

Urge urinary incontinence is one of five types of incontinence.1 The assessment and therapeutic interventions associated with urge incontinence will be reviewed in this third article of a five-part series on urinary incontinence. The first article in this series provided an overview of the prevalence, types and treatment of incontinence in the frail elderly; the second discussed stress urinary incontinence.

Urge incontinence is defined as the involuntary loss of urine associated with the urgency to void. It is the most common type of incontinence in those individuals over the age of 60. Several studies report that urge incontinence occurs predominantly in men (73.3%), followed by mixed incontinence (19.1%), and stress incontinence (7.6%). The prevalence of urge incontinence in women is reported at 22%, and mixed incontinence at 29%.2 Older women often experience combined symptoms of stress and urge incontinence called mixed incontinence. Patients with urge incontinence often suffer severe emotional distress, social embarrassment and isolation.

The severity of urge incontinence symptoms vary from occasional urine losses on the way to the bathroom to sudden, uncontrollable "flooding" without warning.