Embarrassed About Incontinence?  Donít Be
By Michael Plontz, Staff Writer

One thing that most caregivers have in common is dealing with incontinence in their loved ones or themselves. There is still a stigma attached to this ailment, but the only way to combat this misconception is to learn more about it, bring it out into the open and discuss it.

Urinary incontinence can occur at any age for any number of reasons. Women are 50% more likely to be affected than men. The most common symptoms are bedwetting, leakage after coughing, sneezing or laughing, and a general uncontrolled leakage of urine.       

Some of the causes of Incontinence are:   

  • Weakened bladder muscles

  • Excessive alcohol or caffeine intake

  • Emotional disturbances

  • Enlargement of the prostate

  • In women, a lack of estrogen

  • Urinary tract infection

  • Stones in the bladder

  • Nerve damage to the bladder

  • Changes in the body such as surgery or childbirth

  • Side effects from medications

There are six types of urinary incontinence. 

  • Urge incontinence is an urgent need to urinate followed by leakage.

  • Overflow incontinence happens when small amounts of urine leak from a full bladder. 

  • An emotional rather than a physical cause is called psychological incontinence. 

  • Stress incontinence occurs when laughing, lifting heavy objects, sneezing or coughing. 

  • A constant dripping of urine night and day is called total incontinence. 

  • Mixed incontinence is a mixture of any of the above-mentioned causes.

Treatment for incontinence depends on the type and the severity, but the majority of doctors believe that most patients will respond to behavioral techniques. Most of these techniques should be used with structured nursing or doctor supervision. Always check with a health care professional before trying any technique to treat incontinence.

Bladder training works best for urge and stress incontinence, and it involves scheduled urinations. The patient must inhibit elimination until a set time, and the amount of time between urinations will be progressively increased. Habit training is similar to bladder training, but patients are encouraged to urinate when they normally would such as when they wake up, after mealtime and before bed. For those with memory disorders, it becomes necessary for the caregiver to prompt them to go. 

Pelvic floor exercises, also known as Kegel exercises, are especially useful in stress incontinence. Consult your physician for proper technique. For extreme cases, intermittent catheterization may be used, and, for the very extreme cases, drugs may have to be used.

People often suffer through their incontinence without seeking help. The embarrassment is too great. The awareness must be heightened on an issue that affects, or may eventually affect, millions of people. Knowledge is power, so arm yourself. Look for more information on incontinence in future issues of Todayís Caregiver and our newsletter.

 

 

 Subscribe to our weekly e-newsletter