Talk to your doctor about the medicines you take. If any of them are causing problems, your doctor may change them.
Longer Lasting Incontinence
Longer lasting (sometimes permanent) types of incontinence may be put into these groups. Some people may have more than one type or cause. In some cases, the cause may not be clear.
Stress incontinence happens when certain activities add more pressure on the bladder. Leaking can be triggered by laughing, sneezing, lifting heavy objects, or exercise. This is the most common type of incontinence. It may be caused by problems with:
Muscles that support the bladder
Sphincter muscles that control the flow of urine
Urge incontinence is loss of bladder control after a strong urge to pass urine. Urine can't be held long enough to make it to a bathroom. This is also known as an overactive bladder. It may be caused by:
Certain medicines such as those that treat mental health problems, colds, allergies, or high blood pressure
Weak bladder muscles
Nerve damage because of:
Spinal cord injury
When nerve controls to your bladder are absent, the bladder will empty when it reaches a certain volume. This is called a neurogenic bladder. If you have this, you will learn how to drain urine at set times or with a catheter placed into the bladder.
Your bladder control may be perfectly normal. But, any health problem that slows you down or confines you may result in loss of urine. This is called functional incontinence. It often happens with the other types. Some causes include:
You have problems moving around
You can’t find or get to a restroom
Dementia—changes how the brain works and how a person functions
Other Causes of Incontinence
Sometimes, a channel opens between the bladder and the outside world. This isn’t normal and isn’t supposed to be there. It can be present from birth, or because of an injury or surgery. A fistula causes continuous, uncontrolled urine dribbling. It can be fixed with surgery.
Definition & facts for bladder control problems (urinary incontinence). National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/urologic-diseases/bladder-control-problems/definition-facts. Updated June 2018. Accessed January 16, 2019.
Urinary incontinence. Urology Care Foundation website. Available at: http://www.urologyhealth.org/urologic-conditions/urinary-incontinence. Accessed January 16, 2019.
Urinary incontinence in adults. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/genitourinary-disorders/voiding-disorders/urinary-incontinence-in-adults. Updated July 2018. Accessed January 16, 2019.
Last reviewed December 2018 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Adrienne Carmack, MD
Last Updated: 1/16/2019
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