There are two types of incontinence: the one has to do with
the leakage of urine from the bladder, and the other with leakage of stools
from the bowel. The first is called urinary incontinence and the other faecal incontinence.
In both cases weakened muscles play a role. Incontinence of
both kinds are not diseases in themselves, but could be signs and symptoms of
many different other conditions. Not having bowel or bladder control is
potentially very embarrassing, and can have a huge effect on the quality of
Read: Diagnosing incontinence
There are several types of urinary incontinence. Here’s
is something most people have experienced: leaking a bit of urine when having a
coughing or sneezing fit. The increased pressure in the abdomen is caused by
the coughing, sneezing, or even by laughter, and a bit of urine leaks out. The
bladder neck, whose main purpose is to prevent urine leaking from the bladder,
is weakened – sometimes just temporarily.
is when you have a sudden desperate need to urinate, and you cannot suppress
it. It is often caused by the bladder not being able to store enough urine.
People with urge incontinence can often and urgently feel the need to urinate.
describes a condition where the bladder is always full to bursting. It is often
likened to a dam that is overflowing. It is associated with difficulty
urinating, but the kidneys nevertheless continue to produce urine. Either there
is an obstruction at the bladder outlet, or a dysfunction of the bladder
describes a condition where someone has absolutely no control over urine
leaking from their bladder on a continuous basis. It often affects elderly
people, and more women than men are affected by it. In women, it is sometimes
caused by an abnormal communication between the bladder and the vagina.
Fortunately there are various ways of treating the different
types of urinary incontinence successfully. These include the strengthening of
the pelvic floor muscles by means of exercise, medicines that prevent bladder
spams, medicines that relax bladder neck muscles, the insertion of medical
devices, and surgery aimed at keeping the bladder neck closed.
When stool unexpectedly leaks from the rectum, it can cause
great embarrassment to people. A lack of control over bowel movements, just
like urinary incontinence, comes in different forms – sometimes just a little
“accident” when passing wind, to a total loss of bowel control.
Read: Faecal incontinence affects 1 in 5 women
While some people realise they need to get to the toilet,
but just cannot do so on time, others might not realise at all that they are
about to have a bowel movement.
While this is not a life-threatening condition in itself,
and is a symptom or sign of other conditions, it doesn’t take much imagination
to understand why faecal incontinence would be socially inhibiting to anyone
who suffers from it.
But this is not necessarily a part of
ageing, and, fortunately, can respond well to a variety of treatments.
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