Polypharmacy & Incontinence: Can Combining Medications Cause Frequent Urination?

March 26, 2021

By Nathan Sheffer

Polypharmacy is the term used to define taking multiple medications at the same time to treat one or more medical conditions. Regarding polypharmacy and incontinence, polypharmacy can have a negative effect on incontinence in multiple ways. First, we’ll discuss polypharmacy and incontinence, and then look at the risk of polypharmacy, and the consequences of polypharmacy.Polypharmacy

How Does This Affect Incontinence

Polypharmacy can affect incontinence in multiple ways. First, if you are incontinent and taking multiple medications, it can cause more frequent incontinent episodes that may be more difficult to control. Second, adults who are continent and are prescribed multiple medications can experience adverse side effects like urinary tract aggravation that can cause incontinence. This is rare, but with certain drug interactions, it is possible. Last, adults who take multiple medications and have incontinence may be limited in their treatment options.

For adults who have incontinence and take multiple oral medications (polypharmacy), your Urologist may not be able to treat you the same as an adult who is not polypharmacy. Common treatments of incontinence include surgical procedures, medications, lifestyle modifications, incontinence products, and a few others. When a patient with polypharmacy visits their Urologist to discuss their condition and treatment options, certain surgical procedures and medications may not be possible due to the drug interactions. In this situation, your Urologist is likely to recommend using incontinence products to manage bladder and bowel dysfunction.

Managing Incontinence with Incontinence Products

If you are part of the 30% of older Americans (65+) taking 8 or more medications and you are dealing with incontinence, you likely need to find products to help manage your incontinence. At Tranquility, we manufacture superabsorbent incontinence products that are designed to protect you against the heaviest of incontinence episodes. Our products range from light incontinence, for dribbles and partial voids, up to heavy incontinence for absorbing multiple full voids. If you are dealing with several health conditions, including incontinence, Tranquility can help take the worry out, so you have more time to enjoy life and the activities you love.

The Risk of Polypharmacy

In the United States, more and more adults are considered polypharmacy patients. Approximately 31% of Americans take more than one medication regularly, and this increases dramatically for older adults. 30% of older Americans (65+) take 8 or more prescription medications! The most common conditions that lead to polypharmacy is an adult who is dealing with type 2 diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure), and hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol), as these folks are generally prescribed up to 6 medications to treat these chronic conditions.

With so many specialties and sub-specialties within the medical field, there are numerous doctors you may see for your various health conditions. Often, what one physician prescribes is not necessarily known by the other physicians you see. Commonly known as the silo effect, each doctor can be hyper-focused on treating the one condition you are visiting them for, without considering the medications you take for your other morbidities.

However, with advances in medical records and electronic software used by physicians and pharmacies, the risk of harm due to polypharmacy is reducing. Additionally, your primary care physician should be your primary contact and should manage your medications across all points of care.

Consequences of Polypharmacy

The most obvious consequence of polypharmacy is drug interactions and side effects. When multiple drugs are interacting within your body it can create imbalances that lead to more severe side effects. For example, common side effects of blood pressure medication include dizziness, headaches, nausea or vomiting, among others. Similarly, the side effects of medication to treat high cholesterol are headaches, drowsiness, dizziness, nausea or vomiting. When taking medication for both these conditions, you may be more likely to experience the side effects noted in both medications (dizziness, headaches, nausea or vomiting).

The most expensive consequence of polypharmacy is the increased risk of adverse drug events and hospitalization. Over 100,000 hospitalizations occur each year In the United States due to adverse drug events. Certain classes of drugs, when taken together, are associated with an increased risk of adverse events, including antibiotics, hypoglycemic medications, anticoagulants, benzodiazepines, and others.

In older adults, there is an increased risk of cognitive impairment (dementia and delirium) due to polypharmacy. In addition, there is an increased risk of falls and functional decline in older adults taking three or more medications.

If you have more questions or concerns about polypharmacy and incontinence, contact your Urologist or primary care physician. Your doctors will know about the medication you take and how that may impact your incontinence and incontinence treatment options.