What are the transient causes of urinary incontinence?

Updated: Jan 22, 2021
  • Author: Sandip P Vasavada, MD; Chief Editor: Edward David Kim, MD, FACS  more...
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Transient urinary incontinence is often seen in both elderly and hospitalized patients. The mnemonic DIAPPERS is a good way to remember most of the reversible causes of incontinence, as follows [26] :

  • D: Delirium or acute confusion

  • I: Infection (symptomatic UTI)

  • A: Atrophic vaginitis or urethritis

  • P: Pharmaceutical agents

  • P: Psychological disorders (depression, behavioral disturbances)

  • E: Excess urine output (due to excess fluid intake, alcoholic or caffeinated beverages, diuretics, peripheral edema, congestive heart failure, or metabolic disorders such as hyperglycemia or hypercalcemia)

  • R: Restricted mobility (limits ability to reach a bathroom in time)

  • S: Stool impaction

In addition to urinary tract infection, conditions such as bladder cancer, bladder stones, and foreign bodies can irritate the bladder, resulting in involuntary bladder contractions and incontinence. Less common infectious causes of overflow incontinence include AIDS, genital herpes affecting the perineal area, and neurosyphilis. Stones or neoplasms may also result in incontinence due to obstruction.

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