Getting Help For Incontinence
What Is Incontinence?
Incontinence is defined as unwanted loss of urinary control.
Who Should Seek Help?
Incontinence affects approximately 10 million Americans, without regard of sex and age. This means that 4 out of every 100 Americans have some symptoms of incontinence. Incontinence is somewhat more common in women.
When Should You Seek Help?
Incontinence may come on so gradually that you don't realize what a problem it has become. There is no magic formula, but as a rule, if you are incontinent more than once a month, you need a medical evaluation.
Why Seek Help?
Besides the social stigma of embarrassing odor and wetness, skin may be damaged by urine. With the technology of the 90s, most incontinence can be treated or at least managed to allow full participation in a satisfactory life-style.
How Should You Describe Your Condition To The Doctor?
Before your appointment, keep a chart of your voiding pattern:
- When do you go to the bathroom and how much? (Use an old jar to measure.)
- When do you experience wetness? During or after lifting? While coughing, sneezing, Day, night, or both? Before or after after going to the bathroom?
- How much urine do you lose? Estimate amounts in teaspoons, tablespoons, or parts of a cup.
- Do you have trouble stopping or starting the flow of urine?
- What is your daily fluid intake? (Amount and description of what you drink.)
- Be prepared to name the medications you take and any surgery you have had on your urinary tract or around it. When you have this information ready, it is easier for the doctor to proceed with an evaluation.
- If you have had previous treatment for incontinence, bring those records or X-rays with you.
What Will Be Done?
Incontinence has many different causes. The diagnosis will point to the treatment or management that is best for you. Some of the possible treatments are muscle strengthening, electronic stimulation, medicine, surgery, periodic catheterization, external collectors, and absorbant products. Each treatment is personalized to your needs and diagnosis. Often, multiple treatment options for each situation will exist and it will be up to the patient to select the best first option to try.
National Association for Continence
PO Box 8310
Toll Free 1-800-222-3337
Reprinted with permission from Dialog Medical, dialogmedical.com.
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