hands holding medications

What Medications Can Cause Bowel and Urinary Incontinence?

Bowel and urinary incontinence are unfortunate medical conditions that leave an individual incapable of controlling the release of both feces and urine respectively. Sufferers of this disease often need to wear incontinence products, such as incontinence pads or briefs, so that no uncomfortable accidents happen during their days or nights.

There are many different factors that could cause incontinence and others that could influence the severity of an existing incontinence problem, including an unhealthy diet, lack of bowel control, and high intake of alcohol or caffeine.

Knowing what medications can cause bowel incontinence is not clear, but knowing what to look out for may help you control bowel movements, which could lead to more manageable and passive incontinence. Here's a quick guide listing the kinds of medications to watch out for that may be causing or worsening urinary and fecal incontinence.

elderly man with stomach pain

Medications and Fecal Incontinence

So, what medications cause bowel incontinence? According to the National Library of Medicine, there are different drugs that can increase incontinence even if they weren't used to treat incontinence, including those that weaken your sphincter tone, for example (i.e., weakening the muscles located in the anus, therefore causing incontinence). We've classified the drugs below by their purpose.

1. Heart Medications

For the most part, it seems that medications for heart health and lowering blood pressure are more likely to be culprits causing incontinence compared to others. This includes medications that improve blood flow to the heart muscles to treat angina (chest pain), those that lower blood pressure, and even those that treat irregular heart rhythms like digoxin.

This includes oral pills such as calcium channel antagonists, Beta-adrenoceptor antagonists, as well as topical ointments such as Diltiazem gel are all medications that are used to treat blood pressure. Nitrates and GTN ointment are usually used to relieve angina and also cause incontinence due to their weakening of the sphincter tone.

2. Bacterial Antibiotics

Medications that specifically target bacterial infections are also known to cause loose stools, such as Cephalosporins, Penicillins, and Macrolides.

3. Stomach and Digestion Medications

This one's a little straightforward, given that urinary and fecal incontinence are directly linked to your diet and the functions of your digestive system. The obvious but most critical kind of medication that cause incontinence is any kind of laxative. Bulk-forming laxatives can be recommended for those dealing with chronic constipation and used for bowel retraining as a means to treat constipation.

Heartburn medication, like aluminium-containing antacids and Magnesium-containing antacids, works to heal upset stomachs and acid indigestion, but could also cause loose stools. Even topical creams that help stomach muscles move food faster in the stomach, like bethanechol, are also potentially exacerbating incontinence symptoms.

4. Antidepressants and Tranquilizers

This class of medications makes things a little more unfortunate, especially if you're taking antidepressants to take care of your mental health. SSRIs, tricyclic antidepressants, antipsychotics and benzodiazepines are known to loosen stool, and opioids and codeine (as well as loperamide, which helps those struggling with opioid addiction) reduce alertness and weaken sphincter muscles.

Medications and Urinary Incontinence

A lot of the medications mentioned above can also increase risk factors for urinary incontinence, but there are others that relax the bladder specifically and cause leaks.

1. Sedatives and Narcotics

Muscle relaxants and sedatives, like Valium, Librium, and Ativan can relax the urethra and cause frequent urination but can also cause the user to simply stop caring about actually going to the toilet! Narcotics like Percocet, Morphine and Demerol do the same thing, causing drowsiness and a lack of desire to make it to the toilet on time.

They can also make it difficult to start urinating causing the user to strain while trying, as well as stop the bladder from fully emptying causing the user to have to go back and forth to the toilet frequently. Alpha-adrenergic antagonists such as Hytrin are also muscle relaxants, specifically in the prostate, which relaxes the muscle at the opening of the bladder.

2. Antihistamines

Benadryl and other antihistamines that fight allergic reactions also relax the bladder causing it to hold on to urine.

    WellBefore and You

    In many instances, avoiding certain medications can actually really relieve the symptoms of incontinence, but a lot of times individuals are bound to them due to other underlying medical concerns, especially those at higher risk over the age of 65. However, if you are living with incontinence, there are other ways to manage the condition, and WellBefore has got your back!

    From incontinence pads you can place under you, to adult diapers that allow you to discreetly contain any leaks, WellBefore offers a wide range of incontinence products at great prices with discreet shipping. If you have any questions regarding which products are best for your needs, reach out to our 24/7 customer service and we will be happy to help.

    Please note that the information provided in this article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other medical professionals with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.