Urinary incontinence is the loss of voluntary bladder control that can lead to urine leakage. Incontinence can be temporary or long-lasting. It is a symptom, not a condition.
The causes may vary with the type of incontinence.
The accidental loss of urine during physical activity or coughing, sneezing, and laughing
The leakage may be caused by:
- Weakening of the muscles that suspend the bladder
- Weakening of the muscles that control urine flow
- Damage to the muscles that control urine flow following prostate surgery
This is also known as overactive bladder and is the accidental loss of urine when the bladder spasms for no reason. It may be caused by:
- Urinary tract infection
- Diabetes type 1 and type 2
- Bladder irritation (such as kidney stone or tumor)
- Drugs (such as hypnotics or diuretics)
- Nerve damage due to:
This occurs when the bladder will not empty. The urine builds up and overflows. This leads to leaking of urine. It may be caused by:
- Prostate enlargement
- Bladder that is blocked, such as by a scar in the urethra (stricture)
- Fecal impaction putting pressure on the urethra
- Drugs (such as antidepressants, hypnotics, antipsychotics, beta-blockers, antihistamines, calcium channel blockers)
- Vitamin B12 deficiency
- Weak bladder muscles
- Nerve damage
This is when you have normal bladder control, but you are physically unable to reach the toilet in time. It may be a result of a condition like severe arthritis. Drugs that cause confusion or sedation can also lead to functional incontinence.
There may be several different causes for incontinence. In some cases, the cause may also be unclear.
Last reviewedDecember 2013by Adrienne Carmack, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.