For the urinary system to do its job, muscles and nerves must work together to hold urine in the bladder and then release it at the right time. Nerves carry messages from the bladder to the brain to let it know when the bladder is full. They also carry messages from the brain to the bladder, telling muscles either to tighten or release. A nerve problem might affect your bladder control if the nerves that are supposed to carry messages between the brain and the bladder do not work properly.
What bladder control problems does nerve damage cause?
Overactive bladder. Damaged nerves may send signals to the bladder at the wrong time, causing its muscles to squeeze without warning. The symptoms of overactive bladder include
- urinary frequency - defined as urination eight or more times a day or two or more times at night
- urinary urgency - the sudden, strong need to urinate immediately
- urge incontinence - leakage of urine that follows a sudden, strong urge to urinate
Poor control of sphincter muscles. Sphincter muscles surround the urethra and keep it closed to hold urine in the bladder. If the nerves to the sphincter muscles are damaged, the muscles may become loose and allow leakage or stay tight when you are trying to release urine.
What causes nerve damage?
- vaginal childbirth
- infections of the brain of spinal cord
- accidents that injure the brain or spinal cord
- multiple sclerosis
- heavy metal poisoning
In addition, some children are born with nerve problems that can keep the bladder from releasing urine, leading to urinary infections or kidney damage.