This post was reviewed by our Director of Clinical Excellence and Oversight.
Urinary incontinence is one of the most common conditions in America, but unfortunately, many people don’t understand what causes it.
The biggest misconception about incontinence is that it’s an illness or disease; that’s not the case. It’s most often the result of another medical issue. Understanding these issues are the key to understanding the different causes of incontinence.
One of the biggest causes of incontinence, particularly stress incontinence, is the weakening of the pelvic and sphincter muscles. These are the muscles that work together to control the flow of urine from the body.
If the sphincter or pelvic muscles become weak, then they may struggle to keep the urethra closed when they experience force (such as a cough or a sneeze). This could result in unexpected loss of urine. The severity of leakage can range from a few minor drops to higher flows that are more frequent.
Many things can cause the pelvic and sphincter muscles to weaken. One is simply age. The sphincter may weaken over time, making it harder to contain urine. Childbirth and menopause can also weaken the sphincter muscle, both of which are factors in why incontinence in women is more common than in men.
Cognitive disorders, such as Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia, could also be one of the causes of incontinence. Cognitive thinking disorders can cause individuals to have trouble interpreting signals that the bladder sends. This could result in the release of urine in locations other than the bathroom. .
Irregular nerve signals can also cause incontinence. In order for the bladder to release urine, it needs to receive a signal from the brain. Most people have regular control over when this occurs, but there are cases when the nerves send unexpected signals. When this happens, the bladder may unexpectedly release urine.
A common form of incontinence related to nerve conditions is urge incontinence.
Difficulty Moving (Functional Incontinence)
Functional incontinence occurs when an individual has difficulty reaching a bathroom due to limitations in their mobility. The nervous and urinary systems may be healthy and functional, but the challenge is getting to a bathroom in time.
If an individual can’t physically get to a bathroom before they need to go, then often need to use an incontinence product as an alternative. There are many situations in which this may occur, such as confinement to a bed or illness that causes slow, painful movement.
medications can cause an increased need to urinate, which can lead to issues with incontinence. Diuretics, for example, are designed to flush water from the body. Antidepressants are also sometimes connected to incontinence. They can make it difficult for the bladder to contract, which means that urine has a greater chance of
Understanding the causes of incontinence is an important step in managing it properly. Once you know what’s causing it, you can focus on choosing the right product to manage it.
And don’t forget: Most state Medicaid plans cover incontinence supplies. Medicaid and some private plans pay for incontinence products as a covered benefit. To learn more about Medicaid coverage, visit our Guide to Medicaid Coverage of Incontinence Supplies.