Understanding Incontinence

Not a disease in and of itself, incontinence can be caused by a variety of different disorders ranging from surgery, to childbirth, to illness, to birth defects, to, neurological problems, to degenerative muscles. Incontinence can manifest itself as problems with the bladder, resulting in urinary incontinence or problems with the bowel, which yields faecal incontinence.

While incontinence is certainly a topic that many people are not comfortable discussing, it is affecting over three million people in Britain alone. Of those affected only 20% are men, and the rest are women. The incontinence figures tend to be very high for women, because of the toll that pregnancy and childbirth takes on the human body.

While 20% of all adults aged forty and over are affected by some sort of urgency and frequency problem, 25% of adult women are dealing with some sort of incontinence symptom, whether it is light urinary incontinence or more severe involuntary, urinary leakage. As people age, the incidence of incontinence rises to almost half. While old age is not the cause of incontinence, the general decline of muscle strength that accompanies ageing adults is a contributor to incontinence in the elderly. In nursing home populations over half of the residents are dealing with urinary incontinence, and many are also dealing with faecal incontinence.

While incontinence certainly becomes more common as a person ages, it is a problem that affects people of all ages, genders, and backgrounds. Incontinence is still an embarrassing topic for many people, and because of this embarrassment, they may put off proper diagnosis and treatment rather than discuss the problem with their physician. It is important to seek appropriate help as soon as possible, not only because quite often there are treatments and cures for the incontinence symptoms, but also because incontinence can cause a person to become isolated, losing confidence and self esteem. While many cases of incontinence are curable, even those that cannot be completely cured can be successfully treated and managed.

Incontinence products have are vastly improved in recent years, and with both washable and disposable options, it is possible for a person suffering from incontinence to manage their situation without fear of public embarrassment from wetness or odour. Modern incontinence products not only perform better, but they are more comfortable and virtually impossible to detect under most clothing.

Since voiding patterns are unique to each person, determining whether a person is on the cusp of incontinence can be a little tricky. What is a normal voiding pattern for one person may be an abnormal one for another person. So it is a good idea for each individual to be aware of their normal habits, and when a change occurs, it may be something to be concerned about. Here are some guidelines on what is normal for most people, so when a person’s voiding habits change and become more frequent than the textbook norms listed below, it is time to have a physician assess the problem.

It is normal to urinate up to six times per day, and up to one time during the night. Generally the need to go to the bathroom should not occur more every three hours with a normal range being between three and five hours. When a person urinates the stream should be strong and continuous, and it should not be difficult to start or stop the stream. Straining when urinating is not normal, and the inability to stop urinating mid-stream can indicate looming problems as well.

These ranges are very general guidelines, and coupled with noticing a change in regular bathroom habits, they can be useful to detect an incontinence problem in its very early stages.

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