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
Some of the causes of Incontinence are:
Weakened bladder muscles
Excessive alcohol or caffeine intake
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
Stress incontinence occurs when laughing, lifting heavy objects,
sneezing or coughing.
A constant dripping of urine night and day is called total
Mixed incontinence is a mixture of any of the above-mentioned
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
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.