Can Kidney Disease Cause Incontinence?

Is there a higher risk of incontinence for people with kidney problems? We explore whether there is a link between kidney disease and urinary incontinence.

Can Kidney Disease Cause Incontinence?

Is there a higher risk of incontinence for people with kidney problems? We explore whether there is a link between kidney disease and urinary incontinence.

australians incontinence

Around 1 in 10 Australians have signs of chronic kidney disease.  

Kidney disease is the general term for when the kidneys are damaged and not functioning as they should (more on this later). If a person has kidney disease for over three months, it’s considered chronic kidney disease (CKD).  

So can kidney disease cause incontinence?*

Let’s explore the link between the two conditions…

role of kidneys

What is the role of the kidneys?

First, it’s helpful to understand better what our two kidneys do for our bodies.

  • They remove waste and toxins from your bloodstream. Between them, your two kidneys filter 200 litres of fluid every 24 hours, and get rid of around 8 cups worth of urine.
  • They manage blood pressure by producing a hormone that opens and contracts your blood vessels.
  • They help produce red blood cells through the production of a hormone called erythropoietin. Your red blood cells help bring oxygen to the lungs and provide the body with energy.
  • They keep your bones healthy by producing vitamin D, which helps your body absorb calcium for building and maintaining your bones, and regulating muscle function.
  • They help regulate pH, salt and potassium levels in your body.

Therefore, maintaining optimum kidney health is crucial to your overall health. If kidney health is compromised, this can then lead to kidney disease.

Causes of kidney disease

Now we know what the role of the kidneys is, let’s explore how kidney disease, and chronic kidney disease, can occur.

The most common cause of chronic kidney disease in Australia is diabetes. High blood sugar levels can damage the kidneys’ blood vessels, affecting how effectively they filter waste and toxins.

Other causes include:

  • A previous kidney injury, infection or cyst
  • High blood pressure
  • Family history of kidney disease
  • ​​Prolonged obstruction of the urinary tract brought on by kidney stones, enlarged prostate, or cancer
  • Being over the age of 60
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Smoking
  • Heart attack, heart failure or stroke

When the kidneys don’t work properly, wastes and fluid build up inside the body, which can cause other serious health issues.

If you experience any of the above risk factors, be sure to monitor your kidney health with your doctor. They will create a management plan suited to your needs.

Symptoms of kidney disease

Kidney disease is primarily a silent condition because there typically aren’t any warning signs. However, once kidney disease begins to progress, you may start to feel unwell.

Some symptoms you might notice are:

  • High blood pressure
  • Changes in frequency and amount of urination (including waking up during the night to urinate)
  • Frothy or foamy urine
  • Blood in the urine
  • Pain in the kidney region
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Poor concentration
  • Headaches
  • Itchy skin
  • Pins and needles in fingers and/or toes
  • Restless legs
  • Metallic taste in the mouth and/or bad breath
  • Puffiness in legs, ankles and/or around the eyes

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, or are generally concerned about your kidney health, see your doctor as soon as possible.

Can kidney disease cause incontinence?

Ok, now we understand more about kidney function, and the causes and symptoms of kidney disease, it’s time to look into the link with incontinence.

Kidney disease, and chronic kidney disease, mean the organs don’t filter toxins and fluid as they should, therefore allowing more fluid to make its way to the urinary tract which causes increased urine frequency.

Frequent urination can be an early symptom of urge incontinence - one of the types of urinary incontience.

While there is still plenty of research to be done regarding the link between chronic kidney disease (CKD) and incontinence, one study of 40 patients with renal failure found that:

  • 77% of patients had varying degrees of abnormalities in lower urinary tract function
  • 38% had poor bladder compliance
  • 30% experienced bladder hypersensitivity
  • 25% had destrusor (bladder muscle) instability

But what about bowel incontinence?

Another study found that it is in fact common for patients with CKD to experience signs and symptoms of abnormal bowel health. However, there can be a disconnect between patient perceptions and clinical definitions of what abnormal bowel health is.

A different body of research into CKD and bowel incontinence, found that constipation is highly prevalent in patients with CKD, and is primarly characterised by decreased intestinal motility. Other causes of constipation in patients with CKD include certain medications, dietary changes, oxidative stress, gut disbyosis and lifestyle factors such as decreased physical activity.

Diarhhea can also be a symptom of acute kidney failure.

kidney disease prevention

Can kidney disease be prevented?

There are some lifestyle changes you can make to keep your kidneys as healthy as possible and prevent kidney disease.

  • Manage your weight. Being overweight increases your risk of high blood pressure and diabetes which can lead to an increased risk of kidney disease.
  • Eat a whole food diet. Include a variety of fruit and vegetables in your diet, and avoid high salt, sugar and fatty foods.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and avoid sugary drinks.
  • Exercise regularly, ideally for at least 30 minutes a day.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Reduce alcohol intake. That means less than 2 standard drinks per day.
  • Find effective, healthy ways to reduce your stress levels.
  • Know your risk factors and family history, so you can get your kidneys checked regularly.

If you're experiencing incontinence issues due to kidney disease, please view our range of continence management products.

You can also call our customer care team on 1800 86 11 99 or email us at to find a product that will best suit your needs so you can manage your incontinence more comfortably and confidently.

*This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Incontinence can be caused by a variety of underlying health conditions and is best diagnosed and treated by a healthcare professional. If you are experiencing incontinence, we strongly recommend that you consult with a healthcare professional to determine the best course of treatment for your individual needs.

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