Urinary Leaks

Urinary incontinence is defined as the loss of bladder control, or the involuntary leakage of urine. The severity ranges from occasionally leaking urine when coughing or sneezing to having such a sudden urge to urinate that the person is unable to reach a toilet in time. It occurs more often as people get older, but simple lifestyle changes or medical treatment can help ease discomfort or stop urinary incontinence altogether.


There are a few types of urinary incontinence, including the following:

  • Overflow incontinence - Experiencing frequent or constant dribbling of urine due to a bladder that does not empty completely
  • Urge incontinence - Sudden, intense urges to urinate resulting in involuntary loss of urine. You may feel the need to urinate often, including through the night. It can be caused by infection or a minor condition, or a more severe condition like diabetes or a neurologic disorder.
  • Stress incontinence - Urine leaks when pressure is exerted on the bladder by laughing, sneezing, coughing, exercising, or heavy lifting.
  • Functional incontinence - A mental or physical impairment keeps you from making it to the toilet, such as being unable to unbutton your pants quickly due to severe arthritis.
  • Mixed incontinence - Experiencing more than one type of urinary incontinence.


Urinary incontinence can be caused by everyday habits, underlying medical conditions, or physical problems. Temporary urinary incontinence may be caused by certain foods, drinks, and medications that act as diuretics. This may include caffeine, alcohol, artificial sweeteners, chocolate, heart and blood pressure medications, sedatives, or muscle relaxants. Urinary incontinence may also be caused by easily treatable conditions like a urinary tract infection or constipation. Persistent urinary incontinence can be caused by underlying physical problems or changes, including menopause, pregnancy, hysterectomy, prostate cancer, enlarged prostate, or neurological disorders like Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, stroke, brain tumor, or spinal injury.


Although urinary incontinence is not always preventable, you can help decrease your risk by maintaining a healthy weight, eat more fiber to prevent constipation, avoid bladder irritants, practice pelvic floor exercises, and stop smoking.


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