Can a Urinary Infection Cause Incontinence?
Have you ever wondered if urinary tract infections (UTIs) or other urinary infections could be the culprits behind those unexpected moments of incontinence? That may be the case! In this article, we'll break down the connection between the two, but first, let's be clear on what a urinary tract infection is.
A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection that occurs in any part of the urinary system, which includes the kidneys, bladder, ureters, and urethra. UTIs are most commonly caused by bacteria, although they can also be caused by viruses or fungi.
Symptoms of a UTI may include a strong and persistent urge to urinate, a burning sensation during urination, cloudy or bloody urine, and lower abdominal pain. These infections are more common in women than men, and in some lighter cases can usually be treated with antibiotics.
Studies have shown that some people may experience more frequent UTIs than others due to their genetics, and in some cases, have an increased risk of developing bladder infections or skin infections.
The Link Between UTIs and Incontinence
UTIs are notorious for causing discomfort, frequent urination, and that burning sensation we all dread. But can a UTI cause incontinence? Yes, but not directly. Most UTIs don't outright cause urinary incontinence, but untreated or severe infections can spread to the upper urinary tract and potentially affect bladder function.
Also, not all types of urinary tract infections (UTIs) could potentially lead to urinary incontinence. There are a few cases where someone may be at greater risk of potentially developing urinary incontinence, such as:
Upper Urinary Tract Infections
UTIs that reach the upper urinary tract, including the kidneys (pyelonephritis), can cause more severe symptoms and potentially affect bladder control. In some cases, the inflammation and irritation caused by the infection can disrupt normal bladder function, leading to temporary or prolonged incontinence.
Recurrent or Chronic UTIs
Individuals who experience frequent or chronic UTIs may be at a higher risk of developing incontinence. Repeated inflammation and infection of the urinary tract can weaken the muscles and nerves responsible for bladder control, resulting in an involuntary loss of urine, sudden urges to urinate and/or an overactive bladder.
Certain factors can complicate a UTI, such as underlying medical conditions, urinary tract abnormalities, or catheter use. These complications may increase the likelihood of developing urinary incontinence as the infection and associated factors can disrupt nerve signals and affect normal bladder function.
But fear not, it's critical to note that not all UTIs lead to incontinence, and in many cases, prompt treatment and management can go a long way in treating common symptoms and preventing further complications. Let's get into some tips and tricks that can help with UTI symptoms as well as hinder the risk of urinary incontinence!
Tips to Reduce Incontinence Risks Associated with UTIs
Dealing with incontinence or symptoms of incontinence associated with UTIs can be challenging for everyone. Everything from daily discomfort to concerns about taking a trip to the grocery store or going on vacation, there are some tips to consider to reduce incontinence symptoms and help make things that bit more manageable.
Drink plenty of water to help flush bacteria out of the urinary system. Proper hydration promotes frequent urination, which can help prevent bacteria from multiplying and causing a bacterial infection that could potentially lead to urinary incontinence.
The recommended daily fluid intake can vary from person to person due to age, sex, physical activity, pregnancy status and other variables. If you're concerned about not getting receiving the appropriate fluid intake, it's recommended to consult with your doctor for tailored information to your age, body type and lifestyle.
Maintain Good Hygiene
Practice good and thorough personal hygiene after using the toilet. This helps prevent the spread of bacteria, reducing the risk of a UTI or another bladder infection ever happening in the first place!
Empty your bladder regularly. This is a no-brainer for those who experience incontinence symptoms, as the urges to urinate can be frequent and would require immediate action to avoid accidents, such as urine leakage.
This tip should also be considered before and after sexual intercourse. Urinating after sexual activity is an effective way to help reduce the chance of bacterial infections, where bacteria may have entered the urethra during intercourse.
Avoid Bowel Irritants
Limit or avoid the consumption of irritating substances like caffeine, alcohol, spicy foods, acidic foods and citrus fruits that may aggravate the bladder and worsen UTI symptoms.
See our post on what foods to eat and avoid when dealing with incontinence for more information.
Wear Breathable Underwear
Opt for cotton underwear and avoid tight-fitting clothing. Breathable fabrics help keep the genital area dry and minimize moisture, creating a less favorable environment for bacterial growth.
Here's our BONUS summer tip: if you spent a day swimming in a pool or the ocean, don't stay in your swimsuit for too long afterward. Try to put on a clean pair of underwear as soon as you can. Although wearing a bathing suit by itself cannot directly lead to a urinary tract infection (UTI), if you keep a wet bathing suit on for an extended time, it can create an ideal environment for bacteria to grow since bacteria tend to thrive in warm and moist conditions.
Consider Taking Probiotics
Probiotics, either through supplements or natural sources like yogurt, can help promote a healthy balance of bacteria in the urinary tract, reducing the risk of bacterial infection that could help avoid UTIs.
Utilize Incontinence Products
These products, when used and replaced correctly, can help manage and contain any leakage or accidents that may occur while working to determine the cause of your symptoms with the aid of a medical professional.
Remember, if you are experiencing symptoms of a UTI or are concerned about incontinence, it is crucial to consult with a medical professional for a proper diagnosis, appropriate treatment, and guidance on managing your specific condition.
Shopping Incontinence Supplies with WellBefore
If you are experiencing incontinence due to a UTI or other reasons, consider utilizing incontinence products. We offer a wide range of adult diapers, incontinence pads, absorbent underwear and more. Have questions? Reach out to our team to get help finding the right products and sizes for you.