Facts About Incontinence

Incontinence is the leakage of bladder or bowel and it is not an uncommon condition. Incontinence is not just a medical problem. It can affect a person's emotional, psychological and social life. Many people who have incontinence are afraid to do normal daily activities. Many people think incontinence is just part of getting older; but it's not. Incontinence can be managed or treated. Learn more below.

bladder problems

Bladder problems are common

Around one-third of older men and half of all women have bladder leakage.


Incontinence affects twice as many women as men

Reproductive health events unique to women affect the bladder.


Exercise can help your bladder

Strong pelvic floor muscles help you hold in your urine. Men and women can strengthen them with Kegel exercises.

Common Causes of Incontinence

  • Job related activity (ex: heavy lifting)
  • Excessive high impact activities (ex: aerobics)
  • Smoking & lung disease due to chronic coughing
  • Certain foods & beverages
  • Poor nutrition
  • Constipation
  • Anatomical predisposition
  • Obesity
  • Previous urinary tract or renal problems
  • Loss of pelvic muscle tone
  • Pregnancy & childbirth
  • Menopause
  • Pelvic surgery or trauma (such as hysterectomy)
  • Neuromuscular impairments
  • Cognitive impairments
  • Medication side effects
  • Use of diuretics

Common Bladder Irritants

There is no “diet” to cure incontinence, but there are certain foods you should be aware of that can affect bladder control. How these foods and beverages affect the bladder is not always understood.

  • Alcoholic Beverages
  • Carbonated Beverages
  • Soft Drinks with Caffeine
  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Honey
  • Sugar
  • Artificial Sweetener
  • Corn Syrup
  • Chocolate
  • Tomatoes
  • Citrus Fruits & Juices

Helpful Foods and Beverages

Constipation can lead to incontinence. Fiber, found in oat bran, applesauce, prune juice, and in the form of additives, can improve bowel habits.

Grape, cranberry, cherry, and apple juice are thirst-quenchers that usually are not irritating. The best beverage choice is water.

Many people who have bladder control issues reduce the amount of liquids they drink hoping it will reduce the amount they need to urinate. This may cause more concentrated liquid in the form of urine (dark yellow, strong smelling). This more concentrated urine can be irritating to the bladder and increase the potential for a Urinary Tract Infection and incontinence.

The Six Types of Loss of Bladder or Bowel Control (LOBC)



  • Common side effect of anxiety and pressure in our everyday lives, including emotional strain and physical strain
  • Leakage when laughing, coughing, sneezing or exercising
  • Involuntary loss of a few drops

Common Causes

  • Strenuous physical activities
  • Pregnancy and childbirth
  • Pelvic surgery or trauma
  • Loss of muscle tone
  • Enlarged prostate
  • Shift in hormonal balance in women



  • Associated with an Overactive Bladder (OAB)
  • Rushing to the bathroom
  • Awareness of the need to go
  • Frequent, strong and sudden urges, but cannot make it to the bathroom

Common Causes

  • Bladder irritants (e.g. alcohol, caffeine, carbonated drinks)
  • Medications (e.g. sedatives, high blood pressure)
  • Urinary tract infections and cancer
  • Nerve dysfunction associated with trauma, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injuries, Alzheimer’s, Parkinsonism
  • Shift in hormonal balance in women



  • A combination of two or more types, most commonly of Stress and Urge
  • Intentionally urinating frequently to try to prevent stress-related leakage can result in shrinking of the bladder, limiting ability to hold enough urine

Common Causes

  • Occurs when symptoms of both stress and urge types of incontinence are present
  • Happens when trauma to the body can result in frequent loss of urine without warning



  • Urine loss with no warning
  • Cannot tell the need to go

Common Causes

  • Stroke
  • Brain tumors
  • Spinal cord injuries



  • Full bladder and it feels like it’s never empty
  • Often constant dribbling of urine
  • Frequency and urgency of urination increase

Common Causes

  • Bladder injury
  • Radical pelvic surgery
  • Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy (BPH)
  • Nerve damage from diabetes
  • A narrowing of the urethra
  • Medications



  • Occurs when the urinary system may work well, but factors outside the urinary tract, such as immobility or cognitive impairment, can prevent a person from getting to a bathroom in time

Common Causes

  • Functional disability and psychological impairment
  • Physical and mental disabilities, such as immobility or cognitive impairments
  • Environmental barriers, such as stairs, clothing, or wheelchair accessibility

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