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The differences between urinary incontinence, an overactive bladder, and a UTI

May 11, 2018


The Differences Between Urinary Incontinence, Overactive Bladder and UTI


Bladder leakage is often a sign of an underlying condition, such as a UTI, making it difficult to determine the cause of leaks. Understanding the differences between a UTI, an overactive bladder and incontinence is the first step toward better leakage control. This simple guide can help you learn more about the differences and identifying characteristics of these three conditions.


UTI Symptoms


A UTI, or urinary tract infection, is an acute condition that typically resolves with treatment. The infection is usually caused by bacteria in the urinary tract. The bacteria can cause a range of symptoms, including the following:


  • Frequent urge to urinate

  • Urine that is dark, has a strong odor, or that contains blood

  • Burning sensation during urination


Some people also develop incontinence as a symptom of the infection. The incontinence typically resolves with treatment, however, while those with incontinence caused by other factors do not experience relief from system after treatment. Additionally, the other symptoms associated with UTIs, such as burning during urination, aren't present with other conditions like incontinence and overactive bladder.


Overactive Bladder


Overactive bladder is characterized by a frequent need to urinate, a symptom that is present when you have a UTI. Overactive bladder is caused by involuntary action of the muscles that control bladder function, while UTIs are caused by bacteria. Some people may experience the symptoms of an overactive bladder after drinking large quantities, especially if the liquids contain caffeine or alcohol. Reducing alcohol and caffeine consumption, or limiting beverages, can help control the symptoms of an overactive bladder.


Overactive bladder, like incontinence and UTI, can result in leaks and accidents. Treatment for an overactive bladder can lifestyle changes, such as eating a healthy diet to reach weight loss goals, and medications. Your doctor may recommend exercises to strengthen bladder control muscles, and surgery is also an option to treat overactive bladder for some people. Incontinence also typically requires a combination of treatments.




Incontinence isn't usually accompanied by a strong urge to urinate, a symptom that is present in both UTI and overactive bladder. Incontinence has a variety of causes that range from poor muscle control to chronic diseases that affect bladder function. 


The simplest, most effective way to tell if your incontinence is caused by a UTI, or is a symptom of an overactive bladder, is to talk to your doctor. Incontinence that is caused by a UTI is treatable with prescription medications like antibiotics, offering you a simple solution for leaks.


Treating Incontinence


If you are experiencing leaks caused by UTI, overactive bladder, or incontinence, bladder control products are available to help you manage accidents. Incontinence devices include special pads and underwear that quickly absorb liquids, and Wiesner Health offers the newest approach to incontinence products. With incontinence products, you can avoid the embarrassing accidents caused by the most common bladder problems.



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