Incontinence – What you need to know

What is Urinary Incontinence?

Urinary incontinence causes you to pass urine unintentionally; the amount can vary from very little to a large amount.

How common is Urinary Incontinence?

It’s a topic most people don’t like to discuss, but there’s no need to be embarrassed. Urinary incontinence is more common than you might think! In the UK around three million people are regularly incontinent; this is around one in four adults. This form of incontinence can happen at any age and is especially common in women, affecting one in five over the age of forty.
Statistics for incontinence are likely to be higher in reality as many people do not inform their doctor because of embarrassment.

Stress Incontinence.

This is a common form of incontinence and is caused by pressure on the bladder through weakening pelvic floor muscles. Actions such as coughing, laughing, sneezing and exercises can cause urine to leak, as there is extra pressure on the bladder.
Child birth can cause weakening of pelvic floor muscles. Women who have had several children may experience stress incontinence.
Stress incontinence can also affect men who have had treatment for Prostate Cancer.

Urge Incontinence.

This is the second most common form of incontinence where one experiences the need to pass urine urgently.
Urine sometimes leaks before there is time to reach the toilet. This is caused because the bladder muscle contracts too early and some control is lost. The causes of urge incontinence is unknown.
In many cases, urinary incontinence can be improved or cured. Different types of urinary incontinence have different treatments. Knowing which type of incontinence and the amount of urine leaking will help your doctor to make the correct assessment. He or she may carry out tests or an examination to find out the cause of incontinence. You may be advised to keep a diary for several days, recording how often you go to the toilet, how much urine you pass each time and how often you leak urine.

Incontinence and caring for your skin.

Incontinence can mean that your skin is damp for short periods of time. You can care for your skin and prevent irritability by:

• Using a cotton cloth or wipes to wash. Flannels and sponges can be rough on the skin.

• Products are available that cleanse the skin without the need to dry. These usually come as foams, spray or wipes. Your doctor may also be able to advise on the best option to use.

• Avoid using baby wipes and soaps as this can cause the skin to become dry and irritable.

• After cleansing, always moisturise and use a barrier cream. This forms a protective layer to block out unwanted moisture.

If you’re suffering from this condition, here are some simple lifestyle changes to help:

• Reduce your caffeine intake – caffeine is found in tea, coffee and cola and can increase the amount of urine your body produces.

• Altering how much fluid you drink a day – drinking too much or too little can make incontinence worse.

• If you are overweight or obese – It is helpful to find out if you are a healthy weight for your height.

Further information, take a look at the links below.

Age UK Incontinence

Bladder and Bowel Foundation

Carers UK

Family Care Health Care Home Care

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