Urinary Incontinence – Everything You Need to Know

Urinary Incontinence

Urinary incontinence is described as a loss of control of the bladder; it is a condition where urine is passed out involuntary or basically a leakage of urine. In some occasions it might be a huge leakage where all the contents of bladder are emptied or may just be a minor leakage. The problem at times may be short lived or chronic depending on what has triggered it. It is important to understand that incontinence may be a sign of an underlying medical condition hence the need to have a close examination and test to establish the main cause. Problems such as kidney stones or a situation where the prostate is enlarged have been mentioned as some of the main causes of urine incontinence especially for men. Aging can also cause the problem mainly because the muscles in your bladder become weakened as one grows.

Types of Urinary Incontinence

There are three main types of urinary incontinence, one may only experience one type but there are also situations when an individual suffers from two or three conditions. Understanding the cause of urinary incontinence has been mentioned as one an important aspect of treatment, it is only when you understand what is causing the problem that you can manage to diagnose and treat the condition.

One type of urinary incontinence is stress incontinence, this normally when we participate in some strenuous physical activities, for some people the activities are not even strenuous, they only need to put some little pressure for urine to leak. Coughing laughing and even sneezing can trigger the release of urine. These activities cause the weakening and release of urine especially when the sphincter muscle, the organ that is supposed to hold the urine in the bladder weakens.

The other type is the urge incontinence, it normally occurs when there is an strong and sudden urge to pass urine. Immediately when the urge strikes an individual loses the control of bladder leading to leakage of urine. In most cases it occurs suddenly such that you do not have time to rush to the washroom. It is something that occurs suddenly such that you may not even have the time to remove your pants. In most cases people end up wetting themselves, something which can be very embarrassing to an individual.

The third type of urinary incontinence is known as overflow incontinence; it is known to occur when one passes urine but is unable to empty the bladder. Later the individual will experience some urine leakage, it is also referred to as dribbling in some literatures.

Some literatures have coined in a forth type of urinary incontinence, which is the total incontinence, this is a situation where an individual is unable to retain any urine in the bladder; this is a serious problem which leads to wetting. It can be very embarrassing given that an individual is not able to control him or her self; it is something that happens suddenly giving no room to rush to the washroom.

Causes of Urinary Incontinence

There are several causes of urinary incontinence; they range from physical damage of the muscles which are supposed to aid in the holding of urine, advanced age, some types of cancers, an infection in the bladder, neurological problems among others. It is worth noting that some of these problems may be temporary while others are chronic. Some are easily treated and an individual resorts to normal life while others are serious and persistent and their treatment course is complicated.

Temporary Causes

Urinary Incontinence

As noted earlier some of the cases are temporary, they are normally caused by our lifestyles. People who drink excessive alcohol or have a heavy intake of caffeinated beverages are known to experience this problem. These instances are also caused by external factors such as engaging in strenuous physical activities or taking some medication which offends the bladder.

People who drink heavy amount of fluids are also known to experience some temporary loss of control, leading to urine leakages. In some instances taking too little fluids can offend the bladder, this leads to high and strong concentration of urine causing some irritation on the organ, this will lead to damage of the muscles which are supposed to aid in holding off the urine leading to leakages.

There are some medications which are known to cause some short spell of urine leakage, blood pressure drugs are among the culprits, other include some heart medication  the muscle relaxants some sedatives among other medications.

Apart from fluid intake and medications there are other conditions which are known to cause the short terms urinary incontinence,. Constipation may lead to an increase of the need to pass urine as the compacted stool leads to overreaction of the nerves which control the bladder. When somebody has an infection in the urinary tract system, the problem of urine control may be experienced until such a time when the condition is treated.


As we age, the muscles in our body are weakened, those which are supposed to hold the bladder together and aid in holding off the urine are not spared. They become weak increasing the chances of incontinence. If an individual has an issue with the blood vessels the situation will even be made worse. As we age we should strive to lead healthy lives as this not only increases the chances of avoiding some of these conditions but also living a quality life. Urine incontinency affects an individual quality of life as they are forced to avoid some activities; some are forced to retreat to solitary lives as they cannot stand wetting themselves in the public.


Damage of the pelvic floor muscles, the tissues charged with the role of supporting the bladder can lead to incontinence. This damage or weakness can be caused by a surgery; some of the women who undergo surgery to remove uterus have a high chance of losing control of urine. Those who give birth normally through vaginal delivery may also experience the problem. In instances where the size of foetus is bigger than the birth canal, women are advised to use caesarean method of delivery; prolonged labour has also been mentioned as a factor which can lead to women developing the urinary incontinence condition.

Enlarged Prostate

As men advance in age their prostate gland enlarge in size, in some circumstances men may experience a situation where the muscles which help in holding off the urine are interfered with a weakened, this will lead to loss of control as far as urine passing is concerned.


Prostate cancer has been mentioned as one of the main culprits of urinary incontinence in men. Women are also known to suffer from bladder cancer a condition which can trigger incontinence. In some cases it may not be the cancer which will lead to loss of control but the medication or the treatment because which is used, some of the cancer treatment courses are known to cause urinary incontinence as a side effect. A tumour around the bladder regions whether it is benign or malignant will lead to blockage of the normal flow of urine. People who suffer from kidney or bladder stone have the same effect, where the normal flow of urine is interrupted.

Other than cancers, there are other conditions which are known to trigger urinary incontinence, the inflammation of prostate or simply prostatitis as well as intestititial cystitis are known to lead to incontinence.

Home Care for Urinary Incontinence

Urinary incontinence can be managed at home, this involves observing some simple steps which makes living with this condition easier, this is mostly for people who are suffering from a chronic problem. The first step involves understanding the cause of the condition; it is only through this that your doctor can advise of the proper regime of care that can be undertaken at home. This emphasizes the need to visit your doctor once you notice that there is a problem. In a situation where your pelvic muscles are weak or damaged, your doctor can offer advice on how you can go about strengthening. The exercises which will be prescribed involved working out the pelvic muscle floor, you may also be required to urinate on a tight schedule to make sure that they are strengthened increasing the capacity to hold the urine.

The way you arrange your house can also help in managing the problem, it should be in such a way that you can easily access the washroom, this means leaving a clear path where you can rush to the room within a short time. Keeping a light at night and also placing the toilet paper in a place where it can be accessed easily makes it easy to pass the urine and avoiding accident. It is advisable to use absorbent undergarments when you know you have this problem, this will avoid wetting your clothes in case it happens when you are out of the house.

Prevention of Urinary Incontinence

It is not possible to prevent urinary incontinence but there are measures that can be taken to reduce the risk. You should try as much as possible to live a healthy lifestyle, this involves checking your weight such that you are not overweight, avoiding some substances such as alcohol and tobacco. You should get enough exercises and also make sure you eat a balanced diet. Foods and drinks which often lead to episodes of this condition should also be avoided at all cost. To avoid constipation, one of the triggers of this condition one is advised to consume foods which are rich in fibre.

Find more information on what causes urinary incontinence

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About Ferland Manuel

Dr, Manuel Ferland is health care specialist,