While urinary incontinence is more prominent among the aged, it is not an inevitable byproduct of aging. In fact, the causes of urinary incontinence are most often related to specific changes in body function as a result of disease, the use of medications and/or illness. In some cases it can be a symptom of urinary tract infections, vaginal infections or bladder irritation, and women are most likely to develop incontinence during pregnancy and childbirth or after menopause because of weakened pelvic muscles.
Urinary incontinence can also be caused by lifestyle-related factors, such as taking in too much of diuretics such as caffeine or alcohol, or overhydration (i.e., drinking a lot of fluids in a short time span). Constipation also plays in role in urinary incontinence, as hard, impacted stool can cause rectal nerves to become overactive.
Other causes of incontinence include:
- Weak bladder muscles
- Overactive bladder muscles
- Damage to nerves controlling the bladder due to diseases such as multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s disease
- Conditions such as arthritis that make it difficult to make it to the restroom in time to urinate
- In men, blockage from an enlarged prostate
- In women, total incontinence can be caused by a vesicovaginal fistula, or an abnormal connection between the urinary tract and vagina