More medications that can cause incontinence

7 Medications That Can Cause Incontinence: Page 3

By , Caring.com senior editor
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Medicine Series

5. Decongestants and antihistamines

Which ones: Brand names Sudafed, Contac, Benadryl; generic names pseudoephedrine, diphenhydramine

Why they may be culprits: Decongestants that contain pseudoephedrine tighten the urinary sphincter, causing urine retention, which in women is frequently followed by sudden overflow incontinence. However, in men who have leakage after prostate surgery, Sudafed can temporarily clamp down the bladder muscles, preventing leakage. Some antihistamines relax the bladder and also make you sleepy, which can cause incontinence in the elderly especially.

What to do: Try taking a different decongestant, such as loratadine (brand name Claritin), that doesn't cause bladder-related side effects.

6. Sedatives and sleeping pills

Which ones: Any sedative or sleeping aid that relaxes muscles and makes you sleep deeply; brand names Ativan, Valium, Dalmane, Lunesta, Ambien; generic names diazepam, flurazepam, lorazepam, eszopiclone, zolpidem

Why they may be culprits: Sedatives slow your reflexes, so you don't recognize the signal that it's time to go. Sleeping pills compound the problem by putting you into such a deep sleep that you miss the alert from your bladder to get up. Bed-wetting affects about 10 percent of incontinence sufferers, and experts estimate sleeping pills contribute to the problem in many cases.

What to do: Instead of sedatives and sedative-based sleeping pills, try natural remedies for anxiety and sleep. Melatonin taken an hour before bedtime can be an effective sleep remedy, since it's the natural hormone that tells your brain it's time to sleep. The herbs valerian and hops are sleep aids that haven't been associated with incontinence or bed-wetting. The amino acids 5-HTP or tryptophan and L-Theanine are natural sedatives that don't have muscle-relaxing properties. You might also talk to your doctor about prescription sedatives and sleeping pills that don't cause muscle relaxation.

7. Narcotic painkillers

Which ones: Any opium-based painkiller; brand names OxyContin, MS-Contin, Oramorph; generic names codeine, morphine, oxycodone

Why they may be culprits: Drugs made from opium interfere with the bladder's ability to contract fully. This can lead to urine retention and overflow incontinence. Opioid painkillers also lead to constipation, and studies show that constipation desensitizes the bladder and worsens urge incontinence (the kind when you suddenly have to go).

What to do: Avoid opioid painkillers if you can. If you need pain medication after an injury or surgery, ask your doctor to try nonopioid medications first.