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Incontinence: Can I Be Helped?

Incontinence of the bladder and bowel can be embarrassing, disruptive and affect your quality of life. However, plenty can be done to improve and potentially cure your incontinence. Have a read below to find out what incontinence is and how it can be helped!

What is incontinence?

Incontinence is described by the Continence Foundation of Australia as “any accidental or involuntary loss of urine from the bladder (urinary incontinence) or bowel motion, faeces or wind from the bowel (faecal or bowel incontinence)”.

There are many different types of bladder incontinence that can affect men, women and children of all ages. These include:

  • Stress incontinence (leaking urine with activities such as laughing, sneezing and coughing)
  • Urge incontinence (leaking urine with the urge to go to the toilet)
  • Overflow incontinence (leaking urine secondary to poor bladder emptying)
  • Coital incontinence (leaking urine with sexual activity)

Bowel incontinence also does not discriminate between sex and age! This can include difficulty controlling wind from the back passage, staining underwear and passing faeces when you don’t intend to.

What causes incontinence?

It often takes an in-depth assessment to determine the underlying cause of incontinence, as there are many factors than can contribute. One common cause is pelvic floor muscle weakness.

Who is at risk?

There are a variety of risk factors for bladder and bowel incontinence. People who have experienced or are experiencing these listed below may be at risk:

  • Pregnancy
  • Vaginal birth (but can happen to those who have had C-sections)
  • Menopause
  • Obesity
  • High impact activities
  • Heavy weight lifting
  • Constipation
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Prostate surgery including prostatectomy (removal of prostate)
  • Chronic respiratory conditions
  • Chronic diarrhoea
  • Chronic vomiting

Can I prevent incontinence?

Yes! Here are some tips.

Ensure good bladder habits by:

  • Drinking enough water
  • Reducing intake of caffeine, carbonated drinks and alcohol
  • Spread your drinks throughout the day

Ensure good bowel habits by:

  • Eating healthy with plenty of fruit, vegetables and fibre to avoid constipation
  • Sitting properly on the toilet for a bowel motion (lean forward at the hips and have your heels up or feet on a stool)
  • Trying not to strain on the toilet
  • Engaging in regular physical activity as this stimulates movement of the bowel

Reduce load on your pelvic floor by:

  • Having a healthy Body Mass Index (20-25)
  • Squeezing your pelvic floor when you do activities such as coughing, sneezing and lifting
  • Incorporate your pelvic floor into workouts involving high impact activities (such as jumping) and heavy lifting
  • Doing pelvic floor exercises regularly

What does treatment for incontinence involve?

As mentioned above, there can be a lot of factors that can contribute to incontinence. Recognising these factors and creating a management plan addressing all of these is important. Treating incontinence is about improving quality of life, reducing leakage and achieving your goals. If you have incontinence, or think you are at risk of developing incontinence, please give us a call on (08) 9797 111 to have an assessment with Ebony, our physiotherapist with a special interest incontinence and pelvic health. You can also book online!

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