Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Health Care and Incontinence

INCONTINENCE refers to involuntary leakage of urine. There are several types of incontinence according to Urology Northwest. Half of all women experience some form of incontinence at some point in their lives and approximately one third develop a significant regular problem. After the age of 60 the incidents of incontinence increase, but many women in their 20s, 30s and 40s have incontinence. A study has shown that 25 million Americans suffer from incontinence and many do so in silence because they think it's normal or are too embarrassed to discuss the condition with their healthcare provider. People suffering from incontinence will often also suffer from a poor quality of life. This may include low self esteem, sleep deprivation symptoms of anxiety and depression, social isolation. It is not uncommon for these patients to struggle with handling normal activities of daily living such as working, shopping, participating in family and other social activities primarily due to the fear of having an urination accident in public. It is also not uncommon for people suffering from urinary incontinence to also have some degree of fecal incontinence.

The main symptom of urinary incontinence is a problem controlling urination. The circumstances and type of problem affecting urination vary with the cause, according to WebMD. Symptoms of stress incontinence involve the involuntary release of urine, especially when coughing, sneezing, or laughing. It is the most common type of urinary incontinence in women. It usually results in a small to moderate amount of urine leaked. Symptoms of urge incontinence include the need to urinate frequently and a sudden, urgent, and uncontrollable need to urinate. It can result in a moderate to large amount of urine leaked, although it often occurs when the bladder contains only a small amount of urine. It is common for a woman to have mixed incontinence, usually a combination of stress and urge incontinence.

Overactive Bladder is the common catch phrase for a variety of incontinence issues medically referred to as; urge, frequency, urgency, urgency-frequency, overflow, functional and transient. You may most likely associate these problems with situations like "the feeling of not being able to get to the bathroom in time"; starting to urinate "when the key is in the lock"; having an intense urge to urinate but little urinary production, according to Urology Northwest. Functional incontinence is when the patient has some communication barrier and can not let others know of their bathroom need. Transient incontinence is temporary and usually the result of an infection or a side effect of a medication.


According to Fox News, more than 5.5 million Americans suffer from fecal incontinence. It affects people of all ages but is most common in women and older adults. Fecal incontinence is the inability to hold gas or stool and it is a problem that affects 7% of the population in the US. The majority that it affects is women, but there are men affected with this problem as well. The reason why women are mostly affected by this is that when women get pregnant its very often related to birth trauma and carrying and passing a baby which puts a lot of stress on anal muscles. Doctors take special care to lessen trauma to the area during childbirth, and there is help for this problem and that they shouldn’t have to live with the discomfort. Treatment to the muscle improves bowel control and makes incontinence easier to manage. Instead of trying to hide the problem seek help to remedy it.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), UI can be slightly bothersome or totally debilitating. For some women, the risk of public embarrassment keeps them from enjoying many activities with their family and friends. Urine loss can also occur during sexual activity and cause tremendous emotional distress.

Women experience UI twice as often as men. Pregnancy and childbirth, menopause, and the structure of the female urinary tract account for this difference. But both women and men can become incontinent from neurologic injury, birth defects, stroke, multiple sclerosis, and physical problems associated with aging. Older women experience UI more often than younger women. But incontinence is not inevitable with age. UI is a medical problem. Your doctor or nurse can help you find a solution. No single treatment works for everyone, but many women can find improvement without surgery. Incontinence occurs because of problems with muscles and nerves that help to hold or release urine. The body stores urine—water and wastes removed by the kidneys—in the bladder, a balloon-like organ. The bladder connects to the urethra, the tube through which urine leaves the body. A significant amount of detail on this subject is also available on thier website: http://kidney.niddk.nih.gov/kudiseases/pubs/uiwomen/ .

The NAFC estimates that approximately 80 percent of people who have urinary incontinence can find relief or even a cure. Depending on the type of incontinence, treatment may include changes in lifestyle or behavior, medication, special muscle exercises, surgery, or various devices and products to manage incontinence; often, a combination of these is used. So while you'll need to see a doctor for proper diagnosis and a treatment plan, there are several home remedies to help you remain dry and free from embarrassment according to the NIH. Here are 16 listed at this website: http://health.howstuffworks.com/wellness/natural-medicine/home-remedies/home-remedies-for-incontinence1.htm .

You've established that you have a form of incontinence, but what do you do now? The initial doctors' visits, testing, diagnosis, and possible treatments are now in motion or complete, but, according to Health Central Incontinence Network, here is where you can change your current knowledge and lifestyle:

--Following Up With Doctors: Now is a good time to consider following up with your diagnosing physician, in case you have new questions. Also, if you aren't satisfied with your current doctor, you might consider switching. And if you haven't already, you may now streamline your medical care by letting any of your other doctors know about your diagnosis.

--Finding a Support Network: If you've found yourself here, then you've already worked on finding a trusty support network. There are also many in-person groups for conditions such as incontinence. A great way to learn more about these are through a local hospital system or a non-profit agency such as the United Way or the Red Cross.

--Considering Therapy: Sometimes group support is not the right route. If you feel that you need individual time with a trained professional, perhaps you'd be wise to find a therapist. They can be located through hospital systems or through insurance coverage plans.

--Evaluating Road Blocks: Is there anything standing in your way right now? A lack of communication with others or things in your life that are hindering you from making the most of what you've got? Now is the time to reassess anything that is holding you back.

--Doing Further Research: Do you feel that you know enough about incontinence and all of its ramifications? If not, try getting more information--- in written form--- from your doctor, or possibly the links to valuable websites. You can then do research on your own.

--Altering Your Schedule or Re-evaluating Your Lifestyle: Do you need to change some of your lifestyle issues to better handle your incontinence? Do you need to confide in your boss to have a better schedule or a desk with better access to a bathroom? Do you need any home adaptions? Changes in daily patterns can reduce stress levels.

--Changing Diet: A change in eating and drinking patterns may not always change incontinence issues, but contacting your doctor about this issue may return unexpected helpful hints. You may also be referred to a nutritionist.

--Considering Physical Therapy and/or an Exercise Plan: Consulting with a physical therapist can be beneficial; there are some pelvic exercises that can strengthen bladder and sphincter mucles. This may not be an option for everyone, but it's worth a try to find out. Therapists can be found through your primary care doctor, and one might make a personal exercise plan for you.

--Finding a Place of Peace and Gratitude: Incontinence definitely isn't fun or joyful, but carving out a personal corner of happiness in life can greatly impact dealing with the condition. Consider starting a gratitude journal or trying meditation. Therapists or support groups can often help with these ventures

Incontinence can be embarrassing, but there are ways to help you handle this health care issue. Visit your doctor and discuss various options, then find ways to help improve your situation. If you are one of the millions of people who suffer from this medical problem, you have options that are available to help you.
 
Until next time. Let me know what you think.

1 comment:

sheila said...

Patients also need to be diligent about knowing the latest treatment options. Urinary incontinence is bad - but Bowel Incontinence is even worse. Silent sufferers of BCD (bowel control disorder) - need to talk to their doctors!!
Secca therapy is a new minimally invasive option that fills the gap between conservative treatments and invasive surgery or implants - review more info and clinical studies as well as find a doctor at www.secca-therapy.com.