What is Incontinence and how it affects you
Do you always hear the term incontinence but never really know what it means? You’ve come to the right place then! This article will shed light on incontinence and answer many of your questions about it.
What is Incontinence?
Incontinence is by definition the involuntary passage of urine and/or faeces, and it can be brought upon by a variety of underlying causes.
Am I in the Rare Minority that Suffers from Incontinence?
You are by no means alone. The NHS estimates that somewhere around fifty million people suffer from incontinence in the developed world. This numbers are also likely to be an underestimate, because many cases of incontinence unfortunately go underreported.
Urinary incontinence is, by and large, the most common type of incontinence. However, that does not mean that fecal incontinence is rare. It is estimated that most adults will suffer from at least one episode of unchecked fecal leakage during their lifetime.
Is Loss of Control over Urine/Stools a Normal Part of Aging?
While urinary incontinence is one of the most common problem affecting older men and women, it does not need to be accepted as a normal part of the aging process.
It is also not exclusively a disease of the old: young adults and middle-aged people are affected too. Another misconception is that incontinence is exclusively a female disease. This is simply not at all true. Incontinence is a medical condition affecting millions of people from all walks of life all over the world.
What are the Different Types of Incontinence?
Depending on the underlying reasons, urinary incontinence is classified into different types:
- Stress incontinence is the accidental leaking of urine due to sudden pressure on the bladder usually during sports activities, coughing, sneezing or sudden bodily movements. Women are more prone to this type of incontinence due to the weakening of the pelvic floor muscles during pregnancy and childbirth;
- Urge incontinence is the inability of the bladder to hold back the urine when the urge to go arises. The bladder is overactive and there is need to urinate more frequently. The Detrusor muscle surrounding the bladder contracts involuntarily and spills out the urine before you have time to get to the toilet;
- Overflow incontinence happens when the bladder is filled beyond its capacity and urine cannot pass due to blockage in the urethra or the inability of the bladder to contract fully to dispel the urine and empty the bladder completely. Blockage in men is often caused by an enlarged prostate gland compressing the urethra. Small kidney stones may have passed through the ureters down to the bladder and have grown big enough to block the urethra causing incontinence in men and women. Often there is no urge to urinate;
- Functional incontinence is a different type of incontinence wherein the urinary system is functioning normally. Often the problem lies with the person not recognising the need to use the toilet, difficulty locating a toilet and not knowing how to use the toilet. This situation is usually secondary to other diseases clouding the judgement such as dementia caused by advanced Alzheimer’s disease and depression, inability to move quickly to get to the toilet and remove clothing before urinating is often the case with patients having Parkinson’s disease;
- Mixed incontinence is a combination of stress incontinence and urge incontinence affecting mostly women.
How Will Having Incontinence Affect me?
Whatever type of incontinence you may have you should always remember that it need not be a life-altering condition unless disregarded. Early detection and proper intervention and management can help reduce– if not eliminate completely– the consequences of having incontinence. No need to get depressed or be anti-social, get your life back and move on. Regular checkups and laboratory tests will determine the severity of your incontinence so that proper treatment is given.
Can Incontinence be Cured? Will I have to Undergo Surgery?
Much has been researched about this condition and different treatment approaches have been thoroughly evaluated and have shown good results. Incontinence can almost always be cured and surgery is the least of your worries. In the small minority of cases where complete cure is not possible, your physician will be able to help keep your incontinence under tabs and improve your quality of life significantly.
Have you always wondered what is incontinence? Now you know.
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