Urge Incontinence

Urge incontinence is described as a sudden or strong urge to urinate. It is also referred to as an overactive or unstable bladder or detrusor instability.

Most people find that when they get the initial feeling of needing to go to the bathroom that they can hold on until they find a bathroom. Someone who experiences either an overactive bladder or urge incontinence may feel that the bladder is actually fuller than it really is. The bladder will then contract too early before it is very full and not when you want it to, which can make you suddenly need to go to the bathroom and perhaps leak some urine before you actually get there.

Someone who experiences urge incontinence will wake several times during the night (nocturia) and frequently pass urine during the day.

The Explanation:

A properly functioning bladder remains relaxed as the bladder fills up which is the bladder muscle (detrusor). When the bladder is about half full (around 1 cup of urine) we get a feeling of wanting to pass urine as the bladder gradually stretches. Most people are able to hold 2 or more cups of urine in the bladder before needing to use the bathroom. Someone suffering with Urge Incontinence will have overactive bladder muscles that contract with enough force to override the sphincter muscles of the urethra (the tube taking the urine out of the body) causing urine to leak out when it's not supposed to.


Unfortunately the cause is not fully understood however it becomes more common as we age. Triggers that may make the symptoms worse include coffee, tea, alcohol, fizzy drinks and stress related situations. For more information visit diet tips.

Urge incontinence may occur from having a long history of poor bladder habits, an enlarged prostate gland or having constipation (having difficulty emptying the bowel or not being able to empty it). Some cases of an overactive bladder are unknown.

Urge incontinence can affect a person’s ability to hold and store urine. This has been linked to further health conditions such as a stroke, multiple sclerosis and parkinson’s disease, which interfere with the brains ability to send messages to the bladder via the spinal cord. For more info visit Mind.