It is true that incontinence symptoms are more obvious in the elderly. However, that is not always the case as there are many causes of incontinence. Urinary incontinence may affect very young men and women following major surgery, women after a pregnancy, even teenagers.
Incontinence is the loss of urine or feces against our will. It is a common problem that affects both men and women of all ages and can have various causes and a varied effect on quality of life.
The causes of incontinence range from ageing and labour to genetic abnormalities, surgery, pelvic trauma and injury, neurological diseases, infections and bladder infections.
Incontinence usually has a treatable cause; nowadays this cause can be isolated in most cases, if it is promptly diagnosed with the help of specialist doctors and special treatments.
Yes, incontinence may be temporary, depending on what causes it. Symptoms of incontinence that will later recede may appear post-surgery, post-partum or even during a bad cold with coughing. Some even more common cases that can cause temporary incontinence are medication, a treatable inflammation, a period of severe constipation and increased stress that may soon disappear.
We can safely say that urinary incontinence affects women more.
Childbirth, the anatomy of women’s body, pregnancy, hormonal changes during menopause can change the anatomy of urinary tract, the muscles or the nerves that control these muscles and eventually cause urinary incontinence more oftenly to women.
Symptoms of urinary incontinence can manifest for many reasons. Lifestyle can certainly speed up the appearance of symptoms. Certain diseases or surgical operations, as well as heredity factors, are common reasons for the manifestation of the condition.
I go to the bathroom often, because I often feel the urge to urinate. Is this an indication of incontinence?
Frequent visits to the bathroom are not necessarily a symptom of incontinence. It’s normal, for example, for you to go to the bathroom 4-8 times a day. You should know that the number of your visits directly depends on the quantity of fluids you take during the day. If, for example, you drink 2 litres of water each day, while you also drink diuretic beverages, such as coffee or tea, you will certainly feel a greater urge to urinate than someone who drinks water and other beverages in smaller quantities. Even if you feel the urge during the night, this may be due to the increased intake of fluids late in the evening. As an average, we could say that the volume of urine in a 24-hour period is usually 1-2 litres. A normal person should be able to hold in urine for 3-4 hours, without feeling particular discomfort.
The feeling that your bladder is not completely empty after you have been to the bathroom is not normal; it’s a pathological symptom and you should consult your doctor, especially if the symptom is permanent. There are various reasons and your doctor will prescribe various tests to establish the aetiology of the symptom and give you the right treatment for your case.
Seeking prompt medical assistance is the first step towards relief from and handling the symptoms of urinary incontinence. You can seek medical assistance if one of the following symptoms manifests:
- You experience slight urine leakage when you laugh, cough, work out or make sudden movements.
- When you feel constant pressure in the vagina or the lower belly, resulting in going to the bathroom often or slight urine leakage.
- When you feel the urge to urinate often or you suddenly feel an urgent need to urinate, possibly with urine leakage before you reach the bathroom.
- If urination is difficult or painful.
- If you suffer from frequent bladder infections which result in slight leakage.
- If you notice leakage of urine following surgery.
The treatment of the incontinence symptoms faced by each patient must be customised, as each case has its own aetiology. The treatment is based on the patient’s medical history as taken by the doctor. Certain general guidelines, however, can help all interested parties in handling incontinence symptoms: keeping body weight at the right level, diet, exercise and Kegel exercises in particular, and giving up smoking.
The first step towards an effective management of incontinence must be to follow the treatment and management advice you will receive from your doctor. Of course, there are various things that can help you manage your incontinence, so that its symptoms have the smallest possible effect on your daily life.
Use the right urinary incontinence products that fit your needs. Aside from safety and protection, they will also offer you the discreteness you require and will be kind to your skin.
Correct nutrition and intake of fluids on a daily basis. In this way you will keep your weight stable and offer your body the hydration it needs.
Cut down on smoking or stop altogether.
Reduce the consumption of liquids that contain caffeine, which activates the bladder.
Avoid soft drinks, as the carbonation can activate the bladder of highly sensitive people.
In young people and in all cases of light incontinence, the majority of doctors, in trying to avoid prescribing medication and surgery, recommend that patients train the pelvic floor and use Kegel exercises as a way of treating symptoms.
The pelvic floor is composed of layers of muscles and connective tissue, which extend from the pubic bone to the lumbar spine. If these muscles are healthy, they support the bladder. Kegel exercises focus on these specific muscles and can be done easily by all age groups.
Urinary incontinence in itself is a taboo subject for the majority of people. It is, therefore, very important that you find a doctor who you feel you can trust and form a solid relationship with them, so that you feel comfortable speaking to them and they can help you handle your symptoms. The answers to the questions below should be able to help you sufficiently to judge the type of doctor you want to consult. Here is a list of questions to help you decide whether the doctor is right for you:
- Do you find him/her likeable and easy to be around, so that you feel comfortable discussing with him/her?
- Does he/she listen carefully when he/she takes your medical history and when you explain your symptoms?
- Does he/she appear to understand the effect of incontinence symptoms on your personal life?
- Is it possible for you to get an appointment sooner rather than later?
- Should you wish to speak to him/her, is he/she available or do you find yourself spending more time talking to his/her secretary or voicemail?
- Does he/she dedicate enough time during your meeting to both do the physical examination and answer your questions?
- If you see no results from the therapy, does he/she change it constantly, without telling you why there are no positive results?
- Does he/she sometimes consult another specialist on difficult issues?
You must remember that you don’t owe anything to your doctor. It’s your right to change them, if you believe that there your needs are not being met fully. On the other hand, it’s advisable not to change doctors too often, as this could be detrimental for you.
I’m trying to find a female urologist, but the majority of doctors are men. I’m ashamed to discuss a personal matter like incontinence.
It’s perfectly normal that you consider all discussion of urinary incontinence uncomfortable, not just with your doctor but even with persons who are very close to you. You must remember, however, that a problem can only be solved only if it’s faced head on! As in all medical matters, the doctor is the right person to help you handle the issue of incontinence, as all cases are unique, depending, as they do. on personal medical history.
What are you really ashamed of?
The doctor is a specialist scientist and treats all sufferers in the same way. They do not treat patients depending on gender, but as just another case in need of treatment and monitoring.
You should also remember that your doctor has seen many patients before you, patients of all ages, who had the same symptoms as you or even more serious issues; incontinence doesn’t affect just certain ages.
The sooner you see a specialist, the sooner you will find a solution. Don’t dwell on such worries. Make sure, therefore, that you choose the right doctor for you, based on their experience and skills and not their gender.
According to studies, one-third of women who give birth naturally may, to some extent, develop incontinence up to 3-6 months after birth, as the nerves that feed the muscles may be damaged. In addition, the probability of urinary incontinence increases slightly in cases where the doctor found it necessary to use forceps. As a result, natural births are more closely linked to the manifestation of incontinence symptoms.
Of course, this is not a reason for certain future mothers to choose a Caesarean section, as all surgery (such as a Caesarean section) poses multiple risks. This procedure is not recommended solely as a means of preventing urinary incontinence. The gynaecologist is the only competent person to decide if a Caesarean is needed, depending on the circumstances of each impending labour.
Diabetics tend to feel the need to go to the bathroom more urgently. They are also more susceptible to suffering from “overflow incontinence”. In addition, they may be suffering from anxiety, which leads to this urgent urinary incontinence. Therefore, their doctor should conduct a full examination before prescribing treatment.
The menopause is a transitional phase in women’s lives that can start at different ages. During this time, reduced oestrogen levels may cause the muscles of the pelvic floor to weaken, resulting in urinary incontinence symptoms. The sooner you tackle these symptoms during the menopause, the better will the results be.
The prevention of incontinence is not always possible, but there are ways to reduce the risk that its symptoms will manifest.
- Reduce your body weight and keep it low.
- Stop smoking.
- Treat chronic cough and allergies, and regulate the function of your bowels, so you don’t suffer from constipation.
- Introduce exercise into your daily routine.
The skin on my face and all of my body is very dry. Could this be an effect of incontinence, other than of the menopause?
Dehydration is caused by the insufficient intake of fluids or if the body loses more fluids than it assumes. Increased diuresis can cause the body to lose large quantities of fluids. We can, therefore, safely say that urinary incontinence may lead to dehydration, both though increased diuresis and due to the way we change our behaviour to deal with incontinence (limiting fluids).
The menopause and the incontinence symptoms you may be dealing with cause the epidermis to lose large quantities of lipids and become very dry. Don’t forget then to tackle the issue both from the outside, by using special creams, and from the inside, by consuming the right quantities of fluids.
You should know that each personal hygiene product has been created based on certain specifications, following research, to fulfil and cover certain requirements regarding its use. The materials and technology used in each product have been carefully selected to offer you safety and protection and also to be kind to skin.
Menstruation products, such as sanitary pads and panty liners, are a very specific category of products, designed to absorb blood, not urine. Incontinence products, on the other hand, are designed using special technology and aim to provide the best results in absorbing urine, as the consistency of urine is totally different from that of blood, and are also kind to skin, since they are meant to be used for many hours daily. All Iasi incontinence products are made using this technology. Discover them here.
The use of an incontinence pad every day for many hours requires materials that are kind to the skin of the intimate area, thus keeping the epidermis dry and healthy and helping you to handle issues like unpleasant odours.
Here are some very important secrets that may help you deal with unpleasant odours:
The right choice of products that are kind to skin and equipped with Anti-Odour technology. Iasi urinary incontinence products are made with a special Anti-Odour technology, that absorbs odours for up to 8 hours.
Wear non-restrictive clothing, made of natural fibres. Not only does tight clothing made with synthetic fibres cause you to sweat, as it does not breathe, but it also “traps” odours that may be caused by incontinence and does not allow them to evaporate.
Change incontinence products often. Don’t forget to change adult diapers, post-partum pads or any other incontinence products you are using (incontinence pads & underwear) often, especially if they are soiled.
Wash daily or use the special wet wipes. It is very important that the genitals are washed every day. If you don’t like using soap and water on a daily basis, as it can dry out the skin, use the Iasi Fresh wet wipes. Their special technology and composition allows them not only to clean your skin effectively, but also to moisturise it deeply.
Urinary incontinence during sexual intercourse is a common phenomenon that concerns a large percentage of individuals, especially women who are already suffering from some sort of incontinence. The issue of incontinence can be a huge taboo subject for those suffering from it and it certainly has a significant effect on their sex life. The consequences of urinary incontinence during intercourse most often make themselves known during penetration (2/3 of cases) and during orgasm (1/3 of cases). Both cases result in an avoidance of intercourse, anxiety and feelings of shame. In addition, post-intercourse infections that may affect both participants are another factor that may lead to abstinence.
The reasons behind the presence of incontinence during sexual intercourse are classified into two types, depending on how its symptoms manifest. The first type is incontinence during penetration, while the second concerns incontinence during orgasm. Each type has a different aetiology and is, by extension, treated differently: the first type is related to stress incontinence, while the second type relates to incontinence due to an overactive bladder. In both cases, treating the incontinence with the help of your doctor will improve your quality of life.
My mother/father is bedridden and refuses help by a professional carer. What can I do to persuade him/her?
The presence at home of a carer instead of a family member may, in many cases, upset an elderly person and generate feelings of anxiety and disappointment. It could be that your loved one understands that they need help and, as a result, feels very vulnerable and ashamed. It is very often the case that elderly people may feel that they have become a burden or that their loved ones no longer love them and have introduced a stranger into the household to care for them.
What could truly help would be for you to explain to your loved one that it is you who need someone to help you around the house and, as an afterthought, also help them, if there is a need. In this way you will also give them time to get used to the presence of someone new in the house.
Show them that you love them and that you care for their wellbeing. Listen carefully to their fears and worries, trying not to be critical. It’s not always easy, but try to put yourself in their shoes.
A carer’s role is complex and includes providing daily support on a personal and social level. Carers should help the individual escape social isolation, when possible, by resolving both the practical and mental issues they may be facing.
Any advice on how to choose a carer should include the following points:
- Past experience. It would be ideal if the candidates were able to provide references from other families they have helped.
- A friendly and patient personality. The carer’s daily contact with your loved one should be a pleasure, not a chore.
- They must be able to remain unfazed and keep a clear head in cases of emergency and be able to follow the appropriate steps.
- They must have a sense of responsibility. You must be able to trust that they will faithfully follow the agreed programme for your loved one’s care – including medication, meals and personal hygiene – every day.
- The carer must be relatively strong, in case your loved one has difficulties moving.
- They must possess basic first aid knowledge, and they should know how to use any medical equipment that your loved one must use (e.g. blood pressure monitor, oxygen bottle, glucose monitor, etc.).
- They must be able to communicate with your loved one in the same language.
Urinary incontinence may have a negative effect on the quality of your daily life, especially in its early stages. The feelings of shame and isolation can often lead to a serious mental illness, such as depression.
Don’t let urinary incontinence limit your daily life. Speak out about your symptoms: they’re not a taboo subject! A large percentage of people of all ages deal with the same symptoms on a daily basis.
The quicker you speak to a doctor about treating these symptoms, the easier your daily life will become. In any case, if you feel that you can’t handle the issue yourself or with the help of your close family, you can also seek help from a psychologist.
Even if you need time to accept this change in your life, your life at home doesn’t need to be unpleasant and boring. Do things that interest you, and that can be a pleasurable and creative use of your time. Do some gardening, read a good book and listen to your favourite music or look after your pets; it’s certainly never too late to learn how to…paint!
Please remember that, very often, an issue takes on the importance that we assign to it, which may be greater than it actually warrants.