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Incontinence

Learning more about the symptoms of this disease

It's a taboo subject – no one wants to talk about incontinence. It's a part of getting older. It happens after pregnancy. It's something that happens to everyone. The fact is, the myths of incontinence often obstruct people from getting the help they need to live an active lifestyle. Knowing the truth about incontinence can help you relieve the embarrassment of the condition.

What is Incontinence?

There are two types of incontinence – urinary incontinence and fecal incontinence. Urinary incontinence involves involuntary leakage of urine; fecal incontinence is involuntary leakage of fecal matter.

Symptoms of urinary incontinence include:

  • Leaking urine when you cough, sneeze or laugh (stress incontinence)
  • Having a sudden urge to urinate and leaking urine (urge incontinence)
  • Leaking small amounts of urine continuously through the day (overactive bladder or overflow incontinence)
  • Leaking urine while sleeping

Symptoms of fecal incontinence include:

  • Leakage of feces
  • Inability to control bowel movements
  • Leakage of feces while sleeping

Incontinence can be mild to severe (depending on the person), and it can be caused by a variety of health problems. You may be referred to a urologist to find out if you have any problems with your bladder. People who suffer from fecal incontinence may be referred to a gastrointestinal specialist.

Incontinence Treatment

Your doctor, once diagnosing you with incontinence, will work with you to come up with a treatment plan. Incontinence products allow you to protect yourself and your clothing from leakage – they're available at any drug store or medical supply store. Often, people choose to get these supplies delivered.

Your doctor may work with you to construct a diet and physical fitness program to strengthen your bladder or bowel muscles. You may also be recommended for surgery, such as a bladder suspension which relieves the pressure on your bladder. If your colon is affected, polyps or a part of the colon may be removed by a surgeon.

Prescription medications are another way to control incontinence. They decrease the frequency of accidents and urges by controlling the bladder's overactivity. As well, anti-diarrheal medication or laxatives may be prescribed for someone with fecal incontinence, since the cause can be constipation or diarrhea.

If you have incontinence of any sort, you are not alone. There are many support groups online, or you may be able to find fellow sufferers in the community through a hospital. Your doctor can answer any questions you have about this condition.

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