Ever laughed or sneezed so hard that a little bit of urine trickled out? Or had such a big need to go that you couldn’t keep it in?
There are a number of causes of urinary incontinence – for example pressure on the bladder, damage to the pelvic floor muscles, or an overfull bladder – and it’s a much more common condition than one might think.
It's important that you disclose it to your doctor if it starts happening suddenly, or frequently enough to affect the quality of your life.
Here are the main underlying causes that may cause sudden urinary incontinence:
1. Neurological disorders
Nerve signals from the bladder to the brain are vital in controlling the urge to urinate. When these signals are compromised, it can cause sudden urinary incontinence. Conditions that may affect the nerves include neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, a stroke, injury of the spine or a brain injury.
2. Blockage of the urinary tract
Any obstruction of the urinary tract may interfere with the normal flow of urine, causing the bladder to overflow. Obstructions of the urinary tract, like urinary or kidney stones, can develop over time. When the flow of urine is disturbed, infections can occur. You will usually experience other symptoms such as a dull ache near your kidney area, but it’s possible that you may not feel anything for some time.
3. Prostate cancer
If you are a man and you suddenly develop urinary incontinence, you should visit your doctor or urologist as soon as possible.
When men experience stress incontinence (pressure on the bladder), or urge incontinence (a sudden, more frequent urge to urinate), it could signal untreated prostate cancer. Incontinence is, however, more likely to develop as a result of the treatment of prostate cancer through surgery or radiation.
4. An enlarged prostate gland
Older men are often affected by a condition called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) or enlarged prostate, a non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate gland.
The enlargement of the prostate distorts the urethra, obstructing the flow of urine from the bladder and leading to symptoms of an obstructive or irritative nature, including urinal incontinence. Even though an enlarged prostate may not be cancerous, you need to visit your doctor as a matter of urgency if you experience sudden urinary incontinence. Left untreated, it may lead to kidney failure, kidney stones and other urinary obstructions.
5. The use of certain medications
If there is no other reasonable explanation for a sudden onset of urinary incontinence, check your medicine cabinet for any recent medical prescriptions. Some medications such as alpha-blockers, commonly used for treatment of high blood pressure; diuretics, used for kidney conditions; and, very rarely, some sleeping pills and anti-depressants, can suddenly cause an overactive bladder.
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