Medications and Urinary Incontinence: What You Need to Know
Your Health & Wellbeing

Medications and Urinary Incontinence: What You Need to Know

by Gary Sattin on Jan 02, 2024

Are you experiencing urinary incontinence and wondering what could be causing it? Well, one possible culprit could be your medication. While medicine has countless benefits, there is always the possibility of negative side effects, including incontinence.

So, whether you're taking medication for heart disease or depression, it's worth knowing if incontinence could be a potential side effect.Β 

Find out which medications could be causing your incontinence

Certain medications, such as diuretics and antidepressants, can lead to this frustrating and often uncomfortable symptom. So, what can you do? It's crucial to talk to your doctor about any medications you're taking and their possible side effects. There may be alternatives that won't cause incontinence or strategies to help manage your symptoms.Β 

Keep reading to find out more about what medications cause urinary incontinence and what you can do to fix it.

Uncovering the connection between medications and incontinence

β€’ Alpha-Adrenergic Antagonists can cause stress incontinence by decreasing sphincter tone
β€’ Diabetes drugs like glitazones increase fluid retention and nighttime bathroom trips.
β€’ ACE inhibitors can lead to a persistent cough, which can increase intra-abdominal pressure and result in stress incontinence
β€’ Calcium channel blockers can relax the bladder, leading to urine retention and overflow incontinence
β€’ Diuretics can be helpful for certain medical conditions but may worsen bladder control issues
β€’ COX-2 inhibitors can cause fluid retention, resulting in night urination and functional incontinence
β€’ Opioids and skeletal muscle relaxants can relax the bladder too much, leading to urinary retention and overflow incontinence
β€’ Antidepressants, antiparkinsonian agents, and antipsychotics can inhibit bladder contractions, causing urine retention and overflow incontinence
β€’ Sedatives and hypnotics may impair cognition and lead to functional or overflow incontinence
β€’ Alcohol acts as a diuretic and puts pressure on the bladder, potentially causing urge, overflow, or functional incontinence

Alpha-Adrenergic Antagonists

Are you dealing with Raynaud's syndrome, hypertension, scleroderma, or benign prostatic hyperplasia? If so, you may have been prescribed alpha-adrenergic antagonists to help alleviate your symptoms. However, it's important to note that these medications can lead to stress incontinence by decreasing sphincter tone.

Angiotensin-converting Enzyme

Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors are a popular choice for managing hypertension, particularly in people with diabetes mellitus. Unfortunately, about a quarter of people who take this medication complain of developing a persistent cough. As it turns out, coughing can cause an increase in intra-abdominal pressure, which in turn can lead to stress incontinence. It's important to be aware of these issues when you're considering treatment options, so be sure to talk to your doctor if you have any concerns.

Calcium channel blockers

Calcium channel blockers are an interesting group of drugs that have many uses in the medical field. They're often prescribed to treat arrhythmia, hypertension, and chest pain, and they work by relaxing the smooth muscles. In other words, they block calcium channels in muscle cells, leading to vasodilation. It's fascinating to see this effect on the bladder as well: these medicines can make the detrusor more relaxed, which can lead to urine retention and overflow incontinence. While this may sound like a downside, calcium channel blockers' ability to help with such conditions can be truly life-changing for some patients.

Diuretics

If you've ever taken a diuretic medication, you're familiar with the sudden urge to hit the restroom. While this can be helpful for those with certain medical conditions, it can pose a real challenge for those already struggling with bladder control issues. Incontinence, whether it's just a few drops or a whole lot more, can be really stressful to deal with. And, on the other end of the spectrum, if there's a blockage in urine flow and you're suddenly producing more urine than your body can handle, that can cause a whole host of issues too. So, while diuretics can be a valuable tool in certain circumstances, it's important to work with your healthcare provider to ensure that they're not exacerbating any existing issues with your urinary system.

Cyclooxygenase-2 selective non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs

there's another type of medication that can potentially cause incontinence? It's called Cyclooxygenase-2 selective non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or COX-2 inhibitors for short. These medications are a part of the non-steroid anti-inflammatory drug group and work by targeting a specific enzyme called COX-2, which is responsible for producing substances that cause pain and inflammation. They are commonly used to help alleviate joint pain associated with certain ailments, but unfortunately can cause some side effects, including an increase in fluid retention. This can lead to night urination and functional incontinence.Β 

Opioids

Opioids are often prescribed for severe pain relief, but they can have various adverse effects, including urinary retention and overflow incontinence. Opioids, although effective in relieving severe pain, can decrease the sensation of fullness in the bladder and increase sphincter tone, causing urinary issues. Similarly, skeletal muscle relaxants can relax the bladder and inhibit contractions, resulting in incontinence.Β 

Antidepressants

When it comes to treating psychological disorders and promoting relaxation, medication can be a lifesaver. However, it's important to know that some of these medications can have unintended side effects on our bodily functions. Antidepressants, antiparkinsonian agents, and antipsychotics are commonly used for a variety of purposes but can inhibit bladder contractions, leading to urine retention and overflow incontinence.

Sedatives and hypnotics

Similarly, sedatives and hypnotics can be helpful for reducing panic, anxiety, and appeasement but can have the unintended consequence of impairing cognition and sedation, ultimately leading to functional or overflow incontinence. It's always important to have an open dialogue with your healthcare provider about the potential side effects of any medication you're taking.

Alcohol

You may not think of alcohol as a medication, but it definitely has an impact on your body. As a sedative and central nervous system depressant, alcohol can worsen certain conditions. What's more, it can also cause urinary problems. That's because it induces micturition and acts as a diuretic, putting pressure on the bladder. This can result in urge, overflow, or functional incontinence, or even a combination of the three. It's important to understand the effects of alcohol and how they can impact your health.

Anticholinergics

When it comes to treating a hyperactive bladder, antihistamines and anticholinergics are commonly prescribed. However, it's important to note that in some cases, these medications can actually cause retention and overflow incontinence by decreasing bladder contractions.

Thiazolidinediones

Thiazolidinediones, also known as glitazones, are used to treat type 2 diabetes mellitus but can cause night urination and functional incontinence by increasing fluid retention.Β 

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