What are the Causes of Incontinence?

Doctor and patient

Millions of Americans live with incontinence. While there is a wide array of how it’s presented, do you know what causes incontinence? Is it different depending on the type of incontinence (urinary vs bowel)? Are there different experiences with different age groups and genders? In this article, learn some of the causes of incontinence and how it can impact those managing the condition.

What Causes Urinary Incontinence?

There are many causes for urinary incontinence, some of which are difficult to address and control. If you believe urinary incontinence is caused by a medical problem or physical condition, you’ll want to speak with a doctor immediately.

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However, there are other causes of urinary incontinence that include diet, physical activity and even alcohol consumption. What happens is that some foods work as a diuretic and result in more trips to the bathroom. Too much consumption of these products can lead to incontinence. Below is a list of foods that can act as a diuretic:

  • Caffeine

  • Chili peppers

  • Carbonated drinks

  • Too much vitamin C

  • Sugar

  • High acid foods

Stress is another factor. Much like many medical conditions, stress plays a major role in how the body works ... or doesn't. The higher the stress, the more the body starts to shut down. Over time, this can cause more problems with incontinence.

What Causes Bowel Incontinence?

Bowel leakage, or fecal incontinence, tends to be caused more by medical and physical conditions rather than consumption. Constipation, diarrhea and nerve damage are all common causes of bowel issues.

Bowel incontinence can also be the symptom of much larger problems such as the muscles in the intestines not working properly, not having the mental ability to recognize signs of needing to go, and the rectum not providing sufficient warning before an accident occurs. If you have fecal incontinence, see a doctor immediately.

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What Causes Incontinence Among Older Adults & the Elderly?

Both fecal and urinary leakage are often seen (but are not mutually exclusive) among people as they age. There are several reasons why we see incontinence more often in the elderly. First, the muscles that trigger warning signs/help prevent accidents are weaker. They’re unable to recognize and/or prevent an accident from occurring.

Another reason older adults tend to experience incontinence more often is that their bodies have experienced more wear and tear from their diets. Years of caffeine, carbonated drinks and spicy foods have taken a toll, making it harder to control bladders and bowels.

The last, and saddest, reason a person might experience incontinence is they don’t recognize the need to go. This could be due to deteriorating mental ability that doesn't allow them to understand the urge. When someone doesn’t realize they need to go, accidents may occur more easily.

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Is Incontinence Different for Women and Men?

Both urinary and fecal incontinence look similar between men and women. Both experience a lack of control in preventing accidents. However, there are a few differences between genders. For instance, it might be harder to assess the problem with men because their prostates can play a role in an overactive bladder.

Another difference is more women have incontinence problems than men. This is especially true with women who have had a child.

What are the Symptoms of Incontinence?

Now that you know the causes of incontinence among different groups of people, the next question is what are the symptoms? Knowing what to look out for is the first step in living life leak-free and worry-free as well as dry, including:

  • Unable to control urinary and/or bowel

  • Leaks whenever coughing, laughing or sneezing

  • Wetting the bed

  • Frequent trips to the bathroom

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, you should speak to a doctor immediately.

Where Can I Find Incontinence Products?

You’re going to need a few products if you or someone you care for is managing incontinence. That’s where Northshore can help. We offer a wide array of incontinence supplies.

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Many customers start with underwear pads or incontinence pull-ups. They can provide a discreet fit under clothes and offer the absorbency needed to prevent embarrassing leak spots on pants and clothing.

There are also waterproof bed pads for overnight protection. They can be placed on top of mattresses and sheets to keep them dry and can be used to help protect furniture.

Do you want to browse super-absorbent incontinence products? Take a look at our Online Store, and get the reassuringly strong protection you need today! You can also call (800) 563-0161 for personalized assistance and recommendations.