Functional incontinence

Functional incontinence occurs when some obstacle or disability makes it difficult for you to reach or use a toilet in time to urinate. It is often caused by:

  • A problem with walking (such as needing a walker or crutches) that prevents you from reaching a toilet in time to urinate.
  • A medical condition (such as arthritis) that makes it difficult for you to remove clothing before urinating.
  • A problem with reasoning (such as dementia) that keeps you from realizing that urination is necessary or from locating a bathroom.

Treatment

Functional incontinence is treated by using behavioral methods that teach you to urinate on a timed voiding schedule and by modifying your environment so you can get to and use the toilet more quickly. This may involve rearranging furniture, making clothes easier to remove, or making other changes.

Medicines are not used to treat functional incontinence.

Continence products such as absorbent pads or disposable underwear, incontinence clamps, and pressure cuffs are usually used when other methods of treating incontinence have failed or cannot be used. These methods do not treat the incontinence but may make it possible to manage the problem.

Last Updated: July 21, 2008

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