What is incontinence?
Incontinence describes any involuntary loss of urine or bowel or both.
Incontinence is a widespread condition that ranges in severity from ‘a small leak’ to complete loss of bladder or bowel control. Over 5 million Indians have bladder or bowel control problems for a variety of reasons. Incontinence can be treated and managed with the help of medical care and right products. In many cases it can be cured.
Urinary incontinence is when a person cannot prevent urine from leaking out. Urinary incontinence (or poor bladder control) is a common condition. Poor bladder control can range from the occasional leak when you laugh, cough or exercise to the complete inability to control your bladder, which may cause you to completely wet yourself. Other symptoms you may experience include the constant need to urgently or frequently visit the toilet, associated with ‘accidents’.
It is more common in women than in men. It can happen during and after pregnancy, and it is more common with conditions such as obesity. The risk increases with age.
People with poor bowel control have difficulty controlling their bowel movement. This may mean you pass stools involuntarily at the wrong time or in the wrong place. You may also find you pass wind when you don’t mean to or experience staining of underwear.
About one in 20 people experience poor bowel control. It is more common as one get older, but a lot of young people also have poor bowel control. Many people with poor bowel control also have poor bladder control (wetting themselves).
Do you think you might have an incontinence problem?
If you experience bladder or bowel problems, but are not sure if you should seek help, ask yourself the questions below.
- Do you sometimes feel you have not completely emptied your bladder when you use the rest room?
- Do you rush to use the toilet as you are scared that you might soil your pants?
- Are you nervous because you think you might lose control of your bladder or bowel?
- Do you wake up often during the night to go to the toilet?
- Do you leak sometimes before you get to the toilet?
- Do you leak sometimes when you lift something heavy, sneeze, cough or laugh?
- Do you leak sometimes when you exercise or play sport?
- Do you leak sometimes when you change from a seated or lying position to a standing position?
- Do you strain to empty your bowel?
- Do you sometimes soil your inner wear?
- Do you plan your daily routine based on where the nearest toilet is?
If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions you may have a bladder or bowel control problem.
The first step is to talk to your doctor. He will be able to guide you based on the severity of your condition.