What is the Difference Between Heavy and Light Incontinence?

Heavy vs Light Incontinence

How to Find the Solutions that are Right for You

For most people, their incontinence symptoms can be described as “an occasional dribble,” or a sneeze-triggered “whoops.” These episodes are what’s known as light stress incontinence. But for many, their symptoms are more severe than a drip. If you or your loved one are experiencinghigher volume leaks that aren’t triggered by stress activities, you may be dealing with moderate or heavy incontinence.

While it’s not always an easy topic to discuss, learning how to identify and manage your type of incontinence often means the difference between regaining control of your life in comfort or suffering in silence.

The Difference Between Heavy and Light

Typically, incontinence will be categorized as light, moderate, or heavy. The main differentiators between heavy and light incontinence are how often leaks occur and how much is leaked when they do.

Key characteristics of light incontinence include leaks that are sporadic in nature, usually triggered by specific physical activities, and the amount of urine leaked is minor. For women, a light pad or liner can often be used to protect against light incontinence leaks. However, it is important to note that this is not the same type of product as a menstrual pad, and these two types of products are not interchangeable.

Conversely, heavy incontinence is identified by recurrent or constant leaking throughout the daywith limited control of one’s bladder as well as during the night, leading to interrupted sleep and substantial leakage. Additionally, bowel incontinence is most often categorized as heavy incontinence.

Incontinence is Common and Manageable

Incontinence can have a variety of underlying causes and triggers, and anyone can experience it at any age. Although incontinence is very common, especially among older adults and nothing to ever feel ashamed of, it should not be considered a “normal” or “expected” part of aging. If you’re experiencing leaks, it’s important to have a conversation with a medical professional. Avoiding or delaying treatment can sometimes increase the severity of the issue, so don’t hesitate to seek help if you notice any symptoms – sporadic or otherwise.

Finding the right solution

No matter if you’re a dribbler or “a bit more,” we want you to know that you are not the only one. You do have options. Incontinence is typically treatable and very manageable. Learning how to correctly identify your incontinence symptoms is a wonderful first step.

No matter how light or heavy your incontinence is, North Shore Care Supply is happy to help! We believe that good absorbency products should fit the person who wears them, and not the other way around. Our goal is to help you live your life exactly as you want - with dignity, confidence, and peace of mind

You can learn more about our wide selections of pads, disposable underwear, or diapers – depending on your preferences and lifestyle. Or, we have more information on what solutions can look like for those experiencing heavier incontinence.

And, as always, never hesitate to reach out if you have any further questions on product fit or recommendations.


Regardless of capacity, an absorbent product must be changed immediately following a bowel movement.


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Did you know NorthShore has helped millions of people manage incontinence with life-changing absorbent products? It's so amazing to hear their stories.

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