Incontinence is the accidental leakage of urine from the bladder or faeces from the bowel. It can affect people of all ages. Continence problems are typically symptoms of bladder or bowel dysfunction.
More than 4.8 million Australians experience bladder or bowel control problems. The majority of people do not seek help because of embarrassment, shame or a belief that nothing can be done. Embarrassment often prevents people talking about their bladder and bowel problems and getting help. In many cases the sufferer will stop going out and have little or no social contact outside the home.
A variety of health problems such as diabetes, stroke, Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis can cause incontinence. Pelvic floor muscle weakness is also a common cause of these symptoms. Changes to the nerves controlling the bladder, bowel or pelvic floor can also result in loss of control.
Think you might have a problem?
You may experience bladder or bowel problems, but are not sure if you should seek help.
People with bladder control problems may experience:
- leaking urine with coughs, sneezes or exercise
- leaking urine on the way to the toilet
- passing urine frequently
- rushing to the toilet (urgency)
- getting up twice or more at night to pass urine
- Wetting the bed when asleep
- feeling their bladder is not completely empty
- having poor urine flow
- straining to get the bladder to empty
- frequently having urinary tract infections (UTIs).
Urinary incontinence and continence problems may include:
- stress incontinence – leakage of small amounts of urine with exertion. Causes include childbirth, being overweight and prostate surgery.
- urge incontinence – leakage following a sudden urge to urinate. Causes include stroke, enlarged prostate gland and Parkinson’s disease, but often the cause is unknown.
- overflow incontinence – leakage because the bladder does not empty well and overfills. Causes include multiple sclerosis, an enlarged prostate gland and diabetes.
- Functional incontinence – leakage of urine because a person was unable to get to or use the toilet due to a physical disability, a barrier in their environment or because of an intellectual or memory problem. Causes include dementia and poor mobility.
People with bowel control problems may experience:
- leaking from the bowel with the urge to open their bowels
- rushing to the toilet and feeling the need to urgently open their bowels
- leaking from the bowel without the urge to open their bowels
- leaking from the bowel on passing wind
- being unable to control wind
- straining to empty their bowels.
Sequel Home Nursing & Continence Service can provide assessment, advice and support to manage incontinence that allows you (or your loved one) to live life to the fullest. The right advice and support from a health professional may make it much more manageable.
Questions that will be asked during a continence assessment include:
- How often they go to the toilet?
- How much urine is passed?
- What their bowel actions look like?
- How often and how much leakage is occurring?
- Fluid and diet intake?
- Current medication?
- Other health problems? and
- Ability to perform self-care tasks such as toileting, dressing, getting to and from the toilet.
We can provide treatment for incontinence and advise on prevention.
You will be asked to keep a bladder and or bowel diary/chart.
Bladder or bowel leakage – no matter how light – is not normal and most cases can be cured or better managed. So get your confidence back by speaking to one of our nurses today.
Once the type and causes of the problems is identified, a management plan will be developed in a consultation with you and may include a family member.
A referral to a specialist may be included as part of your management plan.
Where to get help
- Your doctor
- A continence or pelvic floor physiotherapist
- National Continence Helpline. Telephone: 1800 33 00 66
- Victorian Continence Resource Centre. Telephone: 1300 220 871
Please call Sequel today on 9499 1200 and speak to one of our nurses on the assessment, diagnosis and treatment options that are available to you and your loved one. Under Sequel’s continence care management plan, life is still there to be enjoyed.