Can Epilepsy Cause Incontinence?

Around 250,000 Australians are diagnosed with epilepsy. With a number of side effects caused by the condition, we answer the question - can epilepsy cause incontinence?

Can Epilepsy Cause Incontinence?

Around 250,000 Australians are diagnosed with epilepsy. With a number of side effects caused by the condition, we answer the question - can epilepsy cause incontinence?

human brain inside and epilepsy

Epilepsy is a long-term neurological condition that is characterised by spontaneous and recurring seizures (these may not be lifelong, however) and is the fourth most common brain disorder after migraine, stroke and Alzheimer’s disease. 

According to Epilepsy Action Australia, a seizure is a temporary disruption of the electrical activity in the brain. There are many kinds of seizures that present in different ways for different people. For example, one person may experience different sensations, levels of awareness, behaviour or movement compared to another person who also has epilepsy.  

The cause of epilepsy is unknown in half of all cases, but genetics and family history do play an important role.

Epilepsy can also be caused by anything that damages the brain like:

  • Head injuries

  • Stroke or brain haemorrhage

  • Brain infection or inflammation

  • Brain tumours

  • Other brain diseases like Alzheimer’s

  • Chronic alcohol and/or drug use

  • Biochemical imbalances such as high/low blood sugar

Triggers of epileptic seizures can include stress, alcohol, illicit drug use, hormonal changes (menstruation, puberty), dehydration, low blood-sugar, flashing lights, sleep deprivation and missed medication.

Epilepsy can cause other physical and mental symptoms other than seizures.

According to the World Health Organisation, people with the condition tend to experience more fractures, bruising and other wounds from the seizures themselves, as well as higher rates of psychological conditions such as anxiety and depression.

Incontinence is another possible side effect caused by epileptic seizures. Let’s talk about it.

epilepsy causing incontinence

Can epilepsy cause incontinence?

Studies have shown that approximately 39% of people with epilepsy have at least one urinary symptom, which may for some be incontinence [1]. 

As previously mentioned, there are different types of seizures that people with epilepsy can experience - two of which can contribute to incontinence episodes. 

1. Tonic seizures, also known as generalised onset seizures, occur when a person’s muscles become tense and/or clonic (jerking movements). Essentially there’s overall weakening in the muscles during the seizure which can put pressure on the bowels and therefore affects the bladder and urinary tract. If the muscles are clonic, it can mean the pelvic muscles aren’t able to hold urine and may leak or completely empty their bladder.  

2. Absence seizures have non-motor symptoms such as staring spells and lapses in awareness, that generally last just a few seconds. During this kind of seizure, signals from the brain to hold urine can get lost as consciousness can be impaired, which may lead to urine leaks or total urine loss. 

Urination itself may also trigger seizures in rome people with reflex epilepsy.

Faecal incontinence is also possible symptom in people with epilepsy during a seizure, but there is less evidence available on its liklihood to occur.

epilepsy awareness day 26 march

Incontinence treatment options

There are steps you can take that may help prevent symptoms of incontinence and epilepsy. These include:

  • Take epilepsy medications on time. Also speak to your GP or healthcare professional about side-effects and interactions of said medication/s.

  • Use continence management products such as pull-ups, slips, pads and bed protectors to manage any incontinence episodes. If you are experiencing any form of incontinence, you can take our ConfidenceClub Help Me Choose Quiz. This will help you decipher which of our products are best suited to your needs.

  • Have a first-aid kit and any other relevant items on the ready for when seizures happen.

  • Stay hyrdrated and eat a balance, wholefood diet.

  • Avoid seizure triggers, such as stress, alcohol, flashing lights, high-sugar foods.

  • If leaving the home, take extra continence management products, clothing and wipes with you in case there is a seizure-related incontinence episode.

So, in answer to the question - can epilepsy cause incontinence? As you would’ve gathered, the short answer is yes. However, there are plenty of management tips and resources out there to ensure that incontinence episodes can be made more comfortable, if they do occur.  

Remember, always speak to your GP regarding any new symptoms you or a loved one may be experiencing in conjunction with their condition.

Your Cart

Order Summary

Your cart is currently empty.

Continue shopping