What Causes Transient Incontinence?

Transient incontinence is estimated to occur in up to a third of community-dwelling elderly and up to 50% of acutely hospitalized patients.

With certain conditions such as Parkinson’s Disease, the underlying condition causing incontinence is untreatable. Incontinence is therefore expected to continue. Transient incontinence, on the other hand, is a type of incontinence usually caused by an illness or a temporary problem that is short-lived or treatable. The World Council of Enterostomal Therapists defines transient incontinence as “temporary episodes of urinary incontinence that are reversible once the cause of the episode is identified and treated”.

transient incontinence causes


Are you experiencing transient incontinence? Post a question on our forum for expert advice.


Delirium or a state of confusion from an underlying illness or medication may lead to incontinence. When the underlying problem is resolved, the patient should regain continence. A stroke or minor brain injuries are other causes of transient incontinence. Various neurological deficits caused by a stroke may affect the management of bladder control until this is treated. Nerve pathways that control the bladder can become damaged due to a stroke. As your body recovers and you have the appropriate surgery, you can regain continence.

Limited mobility after surgery or due to an illness often causes transient incontinence. A lack of mobility is a common cause of faecal incontinence, as it can be hard to reach the toilet in time. This causes constipation. This problem is also known as functional incontinence.

Constipation in itself is a common individual reason for developing transient incontinence. It is common for senior and child incontinence to be caused by bowel impaction or constipation. Children in particular often delay going to the toilet, causing bowel impaction to build up. You can read about managing child incontinence here. Straining while having bowel movements can weaken the pelvic floor muscles, which are vital for bladder control.

Many people develop transient incontinence due to urinary tract infections. UTIs can irritate your bladder, causing you to have strong urges to urinate. Urinary tract infections are highly prevalent diseases, however they can be treated easily with antibiotics. This should solve the incontinence. Common UTI symptoms include the following:

  • abdominal or pelvic pain and pressure
  • blood in the urine
  • cloudy urine
  • fever
  • pink/red urine


Evidence shows that simply overhydrating can be a cause of transient incontinence. People often do not realise that simple overhydrating is the cause of their leakages. Kimberly L. Ferrante, MD, says that she often sees young women who complain of leaks and are unknowingly overhydrating. Ferrante asserts, “we only really need about 64 ounces, including what we get from our food. The bladder can only hold do much, so when it’s really full, it’s normal that it’s going to squeeze and say it needs to be emptied”. She advises, “if you’re urinating in large amounts frequently yet the urine is clear, it’s likely that you are drinking far too much water”.


You can read about maintaining an incontinence diet plan here.


incontinent Woman drinking

Big life events and depression are surprising contributors to incontinence. You can read about the link between stress and incontinence here. It has even been proven that some medication used to treat psychiatric disorders can trigger stress, urge and mixed incontinence.


Do You Have Incontinence?

Knowing what to look out for is vital for treating incontinence as fast as possible. Here are some main warning signs you should look out for if you are worried about incontinence:


  •  You urinate more than 9 times within a 24 hour period on an average day. The average person can hold around 350 to 550 mL (more than 2 cups) of urine in the bladder. Specialists advise that you should not have to urinate more than 9 times in a day if you have a healthy functioning bladder.
  • You have disrupted sleep. This condition is known as Nocturnal Enuresis. Disruptive overnight urges are a common sign of an overactive bladder. You can read our Nocturnal Enuresis information section for more information.
  • You only release a small amount of urine after rushing to the bathroom. A full feeling bladder should release more than just a few little drops when you visit the bathroom. It is a cause for concern if you need to urinate frequently in very small amounts.
  • Your life revolves around finding a bathroom. It is common for us all to be in a rush to find a bathroom at some stage. However, changing locations for a social event or becoming obsessed with finding a route to a bathroom are red flags. Urination habits should never impact your quality of life.
  •  You have accidents before reaching the bathroom. Having accidents is one of the main signs of incontinence that forces many people to visit a Doctor.


Are you unsure which type of transient incontinence you have? Look out for the symptoms of the following types of incontinence:

  • Stress incontinence: You will leak urine when pressure is put on your bladder through activities such as laughing or lifting something heavy.
  • Urge incontinence: You have a sudden, intense urge to urinate followed by an involuntary loss of urine. You may need to urinate often, including throughout the night. Transient urge incontinence is often caused by an infection.
  • Overflow incontinence: You are experiencing overflow incontinence if you experience frequent or constant dribbling of urine. You will feel like your bladder doesn’t empty properly.
  • Functional incontinence: A physical or cognitive problem may keep you from making it to the toilet in time.
  • Mixed incontinence: You experience symptoms of both urge and stress incontinence.

transient incontinence diagnosis


Visit our Living With Incontinence Section for tips on every day incontinence management.






Originally posted 2018-09-05 15:08:35.

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