Urinary incontinence is the loss of voluntary bladder control leading to urine leakage. It can be temporary or last for a long time. Incontinence is a symptom, not a condition.
Temporary incontinence can be caused by:
- Muscle weakness
- Restricted mobility
- Endocrinological disorders (such as diabetes)
Permanent urinary incontinence may be one of four types. Some people have a mixture of these types.
This is the most common type of incontinence. It may be caused by:
- Weakening of muscles that suspend the bladder
- Weakening of muscles that control urine flow
Muscles Involved in Incontinence in Women
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This is also known as overactive bladder. It may be caused or worsened by:
- Urinary tract infection
- Diabetes type 1 and type 2
- Bladder irritation (such as stone or tumor)
- Drugs (such as hypnotics or diuretics)
- Nerve damage due to:
- Excessive urine intake
This occurs when the bladder will not empty. Urine builds up and the bladder overflows. This leads to leaking of urine. It may be caused by:
- A bladder that is blocked, such as by a scar in the urethra (stricture)
- Fecal impaction
- Drugs (such as antidepressants, hypnotics, antipsychotics, antihistamines, calcium channel blockers)
- Vitamin B12 deficiency
- Weak bladder muscles
Nerve damage due to:
- Spinal cord injuries
- Other factors
This occurs when you have normal bladder control, but you can't reach the toilet in time. It may be caused by medical conditions like severe arthritis. Drugs that cause confusion or sedation can also cause functional incontinence.
Some incontinence may be caused by a fistula. A fistula is an abnormal opening between the bladder and outside.
Incontinence has several different causes. The cause could also be unclear.
Last reviewedSeptember 2012by 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.