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Incontinence – Bladder Leakage Causes, Looming Types & Proven Treatment

What is Urinary Incontinence (UI)?

Urinary incontinence is a multifactorial syndrome. This simply means that it is not confined to a specific factor or cause. It is characterized by involuntary leakage of urine. There are many bladder leakage causes but before we dive into that it is important to know the types and their respective symptoms.

Types of Urinary incontinence

1. Stress Incontinence

This is known as the second most common category in older women but can occur in younger persons too. It happens with physical movement or activity e.g. coughing, laughing, sneezing, exercising or heavy lifting. It occurs when pressure from these activities is placed on the bladder and urethra causing the splinter muscles to open. There are two types of splinter muscles; the internal and external sphincters provide muscle control for the flow of urine. This category is common in pregnant women.

2. Urge Incontinence

This can occur no matter how much urine is in the bladder. This category can occur at any age but is most common in women and older adults.  Usually, the sphincters control the flow of urine, but with urge incontinence, the muscle contract with enough force to override the sphincter muscles. This causes a sudden urge to urinate. This category has been associated with persons that have Diabetes as well as Parkinson’s disease etc.

3. Mixed Incontinence

This is a combination of stress incontinence and urge incontinence and bladder leakage causes are by the same factors.

4. Overflow Incontinence

It is a rare type of incontinence and mainly affects women. Overflow incontinence means that you have the urge to urinate but can only expel a small amount. This can be due to a blockage in your bladder. This prevents your bladder from emptying completely. It can also be caused by weak bladder muscles or nerve damage and an increased volume of urine because of medications taken.

Bladder Leakage Causes

5. Functional Incontinence

This occurs mainly in older persons. The reason for this type of incontinence can be neurological but most commonly occurs when there is an obstacle or a particular disability that makes it hard for someone to make it to the bathroom in time.

6. Total Incontinence

This occurs when your bladder can not store any urine at all. This bladder leakage causes frequent visits to the washroom.

Bladder Leakage Causes

Symptoms of Incontinence

1. Bed-wetting

2. Frequent need to urinate

3. Issues with passing urine; having to strain.

4. Leaking during normal activities, like exercising, lifting, laughing, coughing, bending etc.

5. Sudden urges to urinate

6. After you have just finished urinating, having the urge to urinate again or not feeling like you’re completely emptied.

Bladder Leakage Causes

The cause of urinary incontinence can be both temporary and persistent. Temporary incontinence, as its name suggests, can be as a result of your eating habits such as having alcoholic caffeine. Whereas long term or persistent urinary incontinence can be a medical issue. Here are some bladder leakage causes: –

1. Urinary tract infections or more commonly known as UTIs

It is an infection that can affect several parts of the urinary tract; the most common is a bladder infection also known as cystitis. Urinary tract infections can cause a frequent need to urinate and even blood in urine. If this is occurring with you, you should seek medical help.

2. Vaginal atrophy

This is associated with thinning of the vaginal walls, shortening, and lightening of the vaginal canal, lack of vaginal moisture, vaginal burning, spotting of blood after intercourse, discomfort of pain during intercourse, pain or burning with urination etc. This can occur when your body has less estrogen. The thing is women that suffer from this have a stronger chance of getting chronic or vaginal infections as well as urinary problems. In the cases of dryness, over the counter moisturizers or water-based lubricants can help to treat that. However, if symptoms are severe you need to contact a doctor.

3. Constipation

It can be described as having very few bowel movements and sometimes the stool becomes difficult to pass. If you are experiencing urinary incontinence as well as constipation, it can be possible that one is contributing to the other. Bladder leaks get worse when you are constipated because when constipated your colon becomes enlarged. This in turn can put pressure on your bladder and cause some to have bladder leaks.

Bladder Leakage Causes

4. Some Medications

Studies have shown that some drugs can be linked to urinary incontinence.

 Here are four of them: –

  • High blood pressure drugs – there are several classes of drugs that are used to address hypertension, these include clonidine, minoxidil, Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors etc. Although the purpose of these drugs is to dilate blood vessels and reduce blood pressure, they can also interfere with the bladder’s ability to contract.
  •  Anti-depressants – they also prevent the bladder from contracting. Some of them can decrease your awareness of the need to go to the bathroom. Also, some antidepressants can cause constipation, and this can lead to incontinence.
  •  Sedatives and sleeping pills – again, these types of drugs decrease your awareness of needing to go to the bathroom.
  • Diuretics – they’re also known as water pills, and they stimulate the kidneys. They get rid of extra water as well as salt from your body through urine. There are three categories of diuretics; Thiazide, they can be used for a long time, and they get rid of a moderate amount of water. Loop, they are far more powerful, and they are used in the cases of emergencies. Potassium sparing, they help you keep Potassium while your body is getting rid of salt and water. These medications are mainly given to persons when they are trying to reduce high blood pressure. They can also be given for heart failure, problems with the kidney and liver as well as glaucoma (it helps reduce pressure in the eye).

5. Age

Studies have shown that lack of bladder control (incontinence) occurs mostly in older persons especially in women. This can be due to differences in the urinary tract as persons age.

6. Weak Bladder / Weak Pelvic Muscles

The pelvic muscles give you the ability to control the release of urine. Relaxing pelvic floor muscles allow the passage of urine. Pelvic muscle muscle weakness is one of the bladder leakage causes.

7. Diseases

Diseases such as Parkinson’s, Diabetes and multiple sclerosis can cause urinary incontinence. For instance, in the case of Parkinson’s, urinary incontinence can be caused because of the overactivity of the detrusor muscle. This may cause it to contract excessively despite not being filled with urine.

8. Being pregnant and after childbirth

Pregnant women have incontinence because your bladder rests against the uterus. As your baby grows, your bladder gets compressed. This extra pressure causes you to want to urinate more frequently. Incontinence does not always go away after giving birth. Sometimes after having a baby, you lose bladder control. This is caused by pelvic organ prolapse which happens because your pelvic muscles stretch and become weaker during pregnancy. In fact, studies have shown that women that have given birth are at more risk of having incontinence than women that has never had a child.

Bladder Leakage Causes


Various test can be conducted to confirm if you have urinary incontinence and what type of incontinence it is:

1. Urinalysis – this would determine if there were any infection in the urine, any blood, or any other abnormalities in the urine.

2. Residual urine test – where they use an ultrasound to determine how much urine is left in your bladder after being drained using a catheter.

3. Urodynamic test – a group of tests used to check the function of your bladder and urethra.

4. Cystoscopy – using a thin tube with a camera attached. This looks inside your bladder as well as the urinary tract. This test would be able to identify any abnormalities.

Bladder Leakage Causes

Risk Factors

Who is at risk depends on the category of incontinence. Here are some factors that may cause you to be at risk:-

1. Gender – females are more likely to suffer from incontinence because of pregnancy, childbirth, menopause.

2. Age – persons who are older are at risk because of the changes in your muscles as you age

3. Some diseases can cause incontinence such as Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis

4. Being overweight – this can put pressure on your muscles surrounding your bladder which can lead to incontinence.


Treatment using surgical or non-surgical methods depends on the category of incontinence, severity, and underlying cause. In some cases, a combination of treatment is recommended. Here are some treatments: –

1. Using absorbent products – such as pads or adult pampers, plastic coated underwear

2. Pelvic exercise – a doctor may recommend pelvic exercise to help strengthen the muscles that control urination.

3. Change in diet – this would be recommended if this is the cause of your incontinence. You may need to cut back on alcohol as well as caffeine. A doctor may also ask you to reduce your fluid consumption.

4. Portable urinals

5. Catheter – a flexible tube that is inserted into the bladder through the urethra. It permits the withdrawal of urine.

6. Bladder training – if you can, a doctor may ask you to delay urination after getting the urge to go.

7. Medications – medications such as Anticholinergic (this drug blocks the action of bladder contractions), Mirabegron (relaxes the bladder muscles and increases how much urine the bladder can hold), Botox (these injections into the bladder blocks acetylcholine; this chemical trigger bladder contractions) etc.

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