Incontinence

There are several types of incontinece, and factors related to it. Below is a summary of the background and issues related to the condition. 

Urinary incontinence

Urinary incontinence (UI) is the involuntary loss of urine at an inappropriate time and place and in a quantity and frequency that is sufficient to cause a problem to the person that experiences it. It can also limit the activeness of the person and their social relationships. It can occur at any age and in both men and women, however, it is more common in women over 60. Among the population, the incidence of incontinence is 1 in 4 (24%) for women over 65 and 1 in 7 (15%) for men.

Types of urinary incontinence

Stress Incontinence

This incontinence is the most common type of female urinary incontinence. It occurs following the weakening of the muscles of the pelvic floor that support the bladder. Other factors that may cause this include menopause, being overweight and pregnancy. It can happen following exertion, coughing etc.

Urge Incontinence

This type of incontinence is also known as overactive bladder. It occurs when a person has a strong, urgent need to urinate and the bladder involuntarily expels urine. The main causes of this type of UI include neurological problems or lesions, inflammation of the bladder, infections etc.

Mixed Incontinence

Some people, mostly women, have mixed incontinence. It is a mixture of stress and urge incontinence. If you experience both types of urinary loss you may notice that one type occurs more than the other. Other physical or mental problems can prevent a person reaching the toilet in time, such as being unable to respond suitably to the sensation of needing to urinate, due to a physical or mental incapacity.

In the daily care of a dependent family member, particularly the elderly, we may be looking at situations related to:

• Urinary incontinence and/or

• Faecal incontinence

Faecal incontinence

Faecal incontinence (FI) can be defined as a person’s inability to voluntarily control the anal sphincter, leading to the involuntary expulsion of faeces and gases.

It happens more frequently to women that have given birth vaginally, the elderly and people who have experienced trauma (such as an accident), people who have undergone major surgery, or who have experienced apoplexy (a sudden inability to feel or move). Some diseases like diabetes or Parkinson’s can cause intestinal problems and people with inflammatory bowel disease or irritable bowel syndrome may feel an urgent need to go to the toilet or experience some loss of control.

Faecal incontinence has many possible causes.

  • Constipation leading to debilitation of the anus and bowels.
  • Impaction of the faeces in the rectum.
  • Serious diarrhoea.
  • Lesions to the anal sphincter muscle.
  • Lesions to the nerves or other muscles.
  • Rectal, prostate or gynaecological surgery.
  • Over use of laxatives.

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