Urinary Incontinence: Causes and Treatments

Urinary incontinence is a situation that happens more often in children, women. and elderly people. In this article, we'll tell you the symptoms, causes and possible treatments.
Urinary Incontinence: Causes and Treatments

Last update: 16 November, 2020

Urinary incontinence causes you to be unable to fill or control your bladder. However, it’snot a disease itself. Instead, it’s a consequence of basic disorders that affect the bladder.

The defining characteristic of urinary incontinence is the involuntary loss of urine. Someone with urinary incontinence can’t control their bladder, so urine leaks out at inappropriate times. Sometimes, urine leaks out when you make any kind of effort with your bodylike sneezing and coughing. Other times, it may happen because your bladder is full.

Urinary incontinence is not only a physical health problem. Also, those who suffer from it have social consequences. They’re often afraid of leaking at inappropriate times or in front of other people.

Transient urinary incontinence causes

Transient urinary incontinence occurs when the incontinence doesn’t go on for a long period. In general, food, beverages, or medications that stimulate urine production may cause it. Once the diuretic effect stops, the incontinence disappears.

Some substances that can cause this are soft drinks, alcohol, citrus fruits, and certain drugs for high blood pressure. Other causes are:

  • Urinary infections: Bladder irritation can be intense enough to cause urine leakage.
  • Constipation: The intestine is close to the bladder and can stimulate it if you have hard stools.
  • Pregnancy: During pregnancy, both hormonal changes and the enlargement of the uterus can make your bladder hyperactive.
Urinary incontinence is when your urine leaks out at inconvenient times

Chronic urinary incontinence causes

On the other hand, urinary incontinence that lasts for a while has other causes:

  • Prolapse: When pelvic muscles are weakened, the pelvic organs lower. For example, this happens in women with complicated or multiple births. The lowering of these structures is called “prolapse.”
  • Age: Aging weakens the muscles in your body, including the bladder muscle. In women, menopause decreases estrogen and also deteriorates the tissues in the urinary system.
  • Gynecological surgeries: The bladder is an organ that other organs hold in place, especially the uterus. When women have surgery in that area, they may experience urinary incontinence.
  • Prostate problems: In men, prostate problems most often cause urinary incontinence. The first of these is benign prostate hyperplasiaand, more seriously, the second is prostate cancer.
  • Neurological disorders: Certain nervous system issues can affect the nerves in your bladder and make it leak. The technical term is “neurogenic bladder.” In fact, it can happen with conditions like Parkinson’s or Multiple Sclerosis.
  • Psychological causes: Stress or anxiety can cause this bladder issue as well. Bedwetting in children under six years old is an example of this.
In children under six, urinary incontinence is common at night if they're stressed or scared.

Non-pharmacological treatments

You don’t always need medication to treat urinary incontinence. One of the main recommendations is to regulate how much fluids you drink during the day. You can do this without decreasing the amounts. In fact, you can change your drinking schedule to prevent large amounts of urine from forming in a short time.

The best schedule to follow is to drink more water in the morning, then decrease as the day goes on. For kids that wet the bed, sometimes it’s best to eat dinner earlier. That way, there’s more space between food and bedtime.


Sometimes, as much as you try, you can’t solve the problem on your own. Then, you may need to turn to medication. Other times, the urinary incontinence is caused by a disease that needs specific medication.

These drugs aim to ensure that the bladder doesn’t contract involuntarily. Additionally, they make sure the urethra stays closed while urine enters the bladder. For this, doctors will usually prescribe anticholinergics.

This type of medication makes it harder for the bladder muscle to contract. The most common one is called oxybutynin. Anticholinergics are very effective, but they may cause some unpleasant side effects. However, patients suffering from glaucoma and cardiac arrhythmias can’t take this medication. For those who don’t have any contraindications, if the side effects are too intense, you should talk to your doctor about stopping treatment.

Finally, if neither diet nor drugs work, the last option is surgery.

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