Incontinence

Updated 16 March 2015

Dealing with incontinence

Difficulty in the control of the bladder or the bowel can occur at any age. This can be a very distressing and embarrassing experience for people who suffer from incontinence.

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Incontinence is the loss of bladder control resulting in loss of urine. Difficulty in the control of the bladder or the bowel can occur at any age. This can be a very distressing and embarrassing experience for people who suffer from incontinence.

To help the incontinent patient:

  • Encourage the patient to visit the lavatory regularly (every 2-3 hours) since the bladder responds to routine.

  • Patients should be encouraged to drink since reducing fluid intake will only worsen the problem.

  • Make it easier for the patient to go to the bathroom by moving the patient closer or providing access to a bedpan.

  • Avoid fluids that contain caffeine.

  • Make sure the patient controls their fluid intake toward the latter part of the day.

  • Respect the patient’s privacy and dignity.

  • When urine is passed involuntarily, see to the patient immediately.

  • Wash and dry the skin thoroughly but gently, and apply a waterproof cream.

  • Disposable liners can be used during the day.

  • At night, absorbent sheets and pads may be necessary.

  • Find out about exercises that can help develop more control.

  • Some patients may require a catheter, which is inserted into the bladder and left in position to drain the urine from the bladder. While this may give the patient more independence, it may not be the solution for everyone and can put the patient at risk on developing an infection.

Aids for the incontinent patient:

  • Urinals for men.

  • Female urinals (feminal).

  • Incontinence pants – made of a soft material with a waterproof lining or pouch on outside.

  • Underpads – made of absorbent material, backed by waterproof material, used on the patient’s bed. These are useful at night.

Source:
www.hpna.org
www.cancer.gov
Caring for the sick, Nursing the ill, the disabled, children and the elderly, The Authorised Manual of St. John Ambulance, St. Andrew’s Ambulance Association, The British Red Cross Society, 2nd ed. (1988) Dorling Kindersley Ltd.

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Incontinence Expert

Prenevin Govender completed his MBChB at the University of Cape Town in 2001. He obtained his Fellowship of the College of Urologists in 2009 and graduated with distinction for a Masters in Medicine from the University of Cape Town in 2010. His special interests include laparoscopic, pelvic organ prolapse and urinary incontinence surgery. He consults full-time at Life Kingsbury Hospital in Claremont.

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