How Do I Know If My Incontinence Is Temporary? - Nexwear

How Do I Know If My Incontinence Is Temporary?

Reviewed by: Brindusa Vanta, MD, DHMHS

Transient (Temporary) Incontinence | Nexwear

In some situations, incontinence is a temporary symptom of an underlying medical condition. This is called transient incontinence, and it can be a symptom of everything from prostate issues in men to post-birth complications or urinary tract infections in women. It's important to talk to your doctor if you experience incontinence so you can determine if it's a temporary condition or something more serious. Learn more about what diseases and conditions can cause transient incontinence and possible risk factors for this condition.

What Is Transient Incontinence?

Incontinence is a common medical condition affecting people of all ages and genders that involves the involuntary loss of urine, feces, or a combination of the two. Also known as temporary incontinence, transient incontinence can happen with many medical conditions, such as urinary tract infections, constipation, delirium, and mobility issues, and it generally is short term and may resolve on its own with or without medication.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), some degree of urinary incontinence affects an estimated 24% to 45% of women. Chronic conditions such as an overactive bladder or pelvic organ prolapse may prompt urinary incontinence. Fecal incontinence is less common than urinary incontinence, affecting only 2% to 15% of adults. Chronic conditions such as anal sphincter damage, nerve damage, or inflammatory bowel disease can all contribute to fecal incontinence.

Symptoms of Transient Incontinence 

Common symptoms of transient incontinence include:

  • Urinary or fecal leakage
  • A sudden and strong urge to urinate or defecate
  • Difficulty controlling the bladder or bowel movements
  • Frequent urination
  • Pain or discomfort in the lower abdomen
  • Constipation
  • Mental confusion or disorientation (if they are due to an underlying mental health condition)

If you experience temporary incontinence symptoms, you should see your doctor. They can perform a physical exam and order tests to determine the underlying cause. Treatment options depend on the underlying condition and may include medications, behavioral changes, pelvic floor exercises, or surgery.

Causes of Transient Incontinence 

There are many potential causes of transient incontinence. Some are remedied fairly easily, while others may not be. They include:

Medical Conditions

  • Urinary tract infections¬†(UTIs) commonly cause transient urinary incontinence. They cause irritation and inflammation in the bladder and urethra, leading to the urge to urinate frequently and incontinence.
  • Diabetic neuropathy is a common complication of diabetes. It is evident in nerve damage throughout the body due to high blood sugar levels. This condition also affects the nerves that control the bladder and bowel function. It can lead to urinary and bowel problems, including transient incontinence.
  • In some cases, a stroke can cause transient incontinence. A stroke happens when brain cells become damaged due to a loss of blood flow. Depending on the area and severity of the stroke, it can affect different parts of the body, including the bladder and bowel.


  • Diuretics are medications that increase urine production, helping reduce fluid buildup in the body. While diuretics can effectively treat conditions such as high blood pressure and heart failure, they can also cause side effects such as transient urinary incontinence.
  • While antidepressants can effectively treat some mental health conditions, they can also cause side effects such as temporary incontinence. Some antidepressants are more likely to cause incontinence than others. For example, tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) are known to have a higher incidence of urinary incontinence as a side effect. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) cause fewer side effects than TCAs, but are still associated¬†with various side effects, including incontinence.¬†
  • Narcotics, or opioids, can effectively treat pain, but they can also cause side effects such as temporary incontinence. Narcotics can affect the nerves that control the bladder, leading to incomplete bladder emptying and urinary retention. Narcotics can also slow down the digestive system, leading to constipation, which can contribute to fecal incontinence.

Lifestyle Factors

  • Alcohol is a diuretic that increases urine production and can lead to urinary incontinence. Additionally, alcohol can affect the muscles and nerves that control the bladder, prompting episodes of incontinence. Caffeine is also a diuretic and can increase the frequency of urination, making it more difficult to control the bladder.
  • Excess weight and lack of physical activity can add to the development of transient incontinence. Regular physical activity can help with weight management and strengthen the muscles, including the muscles of the pelvic floor that support the bladder and bowel. Weak pelvic floor muscles¬†often contribute to incontinence by making it more difficult to control the bladder or bowel.¬†
  • Constipation may cause pressure on the bladder and rectum and contribute to incontinence.¬†

Diagnosing Transient Incontinence

The diagnosis of transient incontinence typically involves a thorough medical evaluation by a health care professional, including a physical exam, a medical history, and diagnostic tests. Here are some of the methods that physicians use to diagnose transient incontinence:

  • Physical examination. The doctor will perform a physical analysis to check for any visible signs of incontinence, such as skin irritation, swelling, or redness around the genital area. They will also examine the abdomen and rectum to check for any abnormalities contributing to incontinence.
  • Medical history. Medical history includes any past surgeries, illnesses, or injuries that could be contributing to incontinence. Your doctor may also ask about medication history, lifestyle habits, and recent changes in urinary or bowel function.
  • Urinalysis. Urinalysis is a simple test that can help detect underlying conditions that may be causing incontinence, such as urinary tract infections, kidney disease, or diabetes. The test involves collecting and analyzing a urine sample for signs of infection or other abnormalities.
  • Imaging tests. In certain cases, the doctor may recommend imaging tests, such as a pelvic ultrasound or CT scan. These tests check for any structural abnormalities in the urinary or reproductive system that could be causing incontinence.
  • Urodynamic testing. This testing involves measuring the pressure and flow of urine to assess the function of the bladder and urethra. It can help diagnose conditions such as overactive bladder, bladder¬†prolapse, or urethral obstruction.
  • Tests for fecal incontinence. The doctor may perform digital rectal examination and order tests like colonoscopy, anal manometry, or anal¬†ultrasonography.¬†

Solutions for Transient Incontinence

Not all treatments are going to completely resolve transient incontinence, but some may provide relief. Here are some potential solutions:

  • Lifestyle changes. Drinking plenty of water during the day (avoid at bedtime) can help prevent urinary tract infections. Eating a balanced diet high in fiber can reduce the risk of fecal incontinence. Limiting caffeine and alcohol intake can also help to reduce bladder irritation and improve bladder control.
  • Nexwear.¬†Nexwear specializes in providing discreet, effective solutions for managing transient incontinence. Its¬†products are made from high-quality materials that are comfortable and absorbent, allowing for all-day use without discomfort or leakage. Some of the products offered by Nexwear for managing incontinence include protective underwear, bladder pads, and disposable pouches.¬†
  • Medications. Doctors may prescribe antibiotics to treat urinary tract infections and antidiarrheal medications to treat diarrhea, both of which can help with transient incontinence.
  • Procedures. In some cases, certain procedures or even surgery are necessary to treat incontinence. For example, you may require surgery to correct structural abnormalities in the urinary or reproductive system that are causing incontinence. Your doctor may also recommend¬†a device that stimulates the nerves that control bladder function be surgically implanted.

It's essential to remember that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to managing transient incontinence. The most effective treatment plan will depend on the underlying cause of incontinence and the patient's symptoms, preferences, and lifestyle. If you are experiencing transient incontinence, you should talk to your health care provider to develop a personalized treatment plan that works for you.

How Do I Know If I Have Transient Incontinence?

If you're experiencing episodes of incontinence and can't pinpoint a cause, it's best to consult your doctor for testing. Some causes of incontinence may be due to serious conditions, but in others, the incontinence is due to a urinary tract infection that resolves quickly with treatment. 

The Bottom Line

Transient incontinence is a temporary type of incontinence that can occur for various reasons. If you experience symptoms of transient incontinence, it is important to see your doctor to determine the underlying cause and receive appropriate treatment. Nexwear's products can be an excellent solution for managing transient incontinence in the long and short term. They offer maximum protection and discretion, allowing individuals to continue their daily activities confidently and comfortably. Order yours today.