It's time to break the taboo around adult incontinence and talk about it openly. Millions of adults suffer from this condition, but because it is seen as embarrassing, many of them keep quiet about it. We need to start talking about adult incontinence frankly and openly so that people can get the help they need.
According to the Continence Foundation of Australia, 1 in 3 adults experiences some form of incontinence.
Normally, the muscles in your bladder wall relax while the bladder fills with urine. Once it’s full, the bladder sends your brain a signal that it’s time to go to the bathroom. Muscles in and around your bladder hold the urine inside until you can make it (usually!).
Incontinence occurs when the muscles that keep urine in your bladder or support your bladder become weak enough to allow urine to escape. Nerve damage can also prevent your brain from getting the message that it’s time to go.
Here are some causes of incontinence:
- enlarged prostate
- prostate cancer
- blockage in the urinary tract
- conditions that damage nerves, such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and stroke
- structural problems with the urinary tract
There are a number of different types of adult incontinence, including:
- Stress incontinence: This type of incontinence is caused by pressure on the bladder, such as when you laugh, cough, or sneeze.
- Urge incontinence: This type of incontinence is caused by a sudden urge to urinate.
- Overflow incontinence: This type of incontinence is caused by a full bladder, which leaks urine because the person can't get to the bathroom in time.
- Functional incontinence: This type of incontinence is caused by a physical or mental limitation that prevents a person from getting to the bathroom in time.
- Mixed incontinence: You experience a combination of stress and urge incontinence.
How to know that you have incontinence
If you’re experiencing symptoms of incontinence, you should consult your doctor. Your primary care doctor may be able to make a diagnosis. The doctor will ask how often you feel the urge to go, what seems to trigger the problem, and whether you leak urine. Answering your doctor’s questions will be easier if you keep a diary of your symptoms. You will undergo a series of tests to determine the cause.
Treatments for adult incontinence, including:
- Behavioral therapies: These therapies help to retrain the bladder muscles.
- Bladder training: This type of therapy involves gradually increasing the time between bathroom visits.
- Pelvic floor muscle exercises: These exercises help to strengthen the muscles around the bladder.
- Electrical stimulation: This therapy uses electrical impulses to help retrain the bladder muscles.
- Medications: There are a number of different medications that can be used to treat incontinence, including anticholinergics, beta-3 adrenergic agonists, and tricyclic antidepressants.
- Surgical treatments: In some cases, surgery may be necessary to treat incontinence.
The top 5 foods that trigger incontinence in adults are:
- Spicy Foods: Capsaicin, the compound that makes chilli peppers hot, can also irritate the bladder and cause urinary urgency.
- Citrus Fruits: The acidic nature of citrus fruits can irritate the bladder
- Caffeine: Caffeine is a stimulant that can irritate the bladder and cause urinary urgency.
- Alcohol: Alcohol is a diuretic that can increase urine production.
- Artificial Sweeteners: Sugar alcohols, such as sorbitol and xylitol, are often used as artificial sweeteners. They can have a laxative effect and cause diarrhoea, which can lead to urinary incontinence.
Products to help manage incontinence
Certain products can help manage leakage and prevent urine odour:
- Absorbent pads: These pads are similar to menstrual pads, but they can store more liquid. Incontinence pads stay on your underwear and absorb both urine and odour.
- Incontinence panties and briefs: Some types of bladder control underwear have an absorbent pad built into them, while others are disposable. Washable varieties look like typical cotton underwear.
- Plastic pants: These plastic briefs slip on over your underwear to prevent leaks.
- Protective pads: If you're worried about leaking during the night, these bed pads can be placed over your sheets to protect them.
- Catheters: A catheter is a slender, flexible tube that is inserted into your urethra to empty your bladder. A condom-like device constructed of cloth may be worn over men's organs.
While adult incontinence can be embarrassing and frustrating, it's important to stay positive and proactive about managing the condition. This condition need not be embarrassing if it is managed and addressed properly.
You can check our wide range of incontinence aids for both men and women.