Incontinence is estimated to affect almost 4 million Australians. It is a condition which we often do not discuss openly, not even with our healthcare professional.
By seeking help the condition can almost always be better managed. Incontinence can affect the bladder (urinary incontinence) and/or the bowel (faecal incontinence).
Commonly described types of urinary incontinence are stress, urge, overflow, reflex and functional incontinence.
A urologist, GP or a continence advisor can ensure that the right treatment and management program is prescribed. It will vary with the type and severity of the condition and may include medication and lifestyle changes (eg. pelvic floor exercises). A continence advisor (nurse or physiotherapist) can assist you to find the correct specialist continence aids.
Key types of continence aids include:
This category covers disposable pads, pull-ups (pants), all-in-ones (nappy-style) and booster pads. They come in a variety of sizes and capacities. Some are specifically designed for men. For the best result they should be sized and fitted by a continence advisor.
The choice between a washable product or a disposable product is a question of personal preference and in some cases cost and/or convenience. A washable brief can be used effectively with a disposable insert pad.
These are specialist products which are prescribed by a healthcare professional. There are different types of catheters. Catheters are inserted directly into the bladder to drain urine. It can remain in situ for a period of time prescribed by a healthcare professional. There are also intermittent catheters which users introduce themselves. Catheters which stay in place are fitted to a leg bag during the day and to a drain bag during the night. Or they may be fitted with a valve which is used to empty the bladder at regular intervals (this must be determined by your heathcare professional).
Also called sheaths or external catheters these are used by men. For effective use, correct sizing and instructions by a healthcare professional is helpful.
Faecal incontinence, the involuntary loss of liquid or solid stool. This type of incontinence also increases with age. The emotional impact of the condition can be severe.
The two most common causes of faecal incontinence are constipation and diarrhoea. A program of treatment can often be successful.
There are a number of specialist continence aids and other products that can assist in the effective management and treatment of the condition. These include bowel care, odour control and continence products with in-built odour control.
A healthcare professional can assess the condition and related causes and prescribe a treatment and management program.