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Incontinence Awareness Month - September

Incontinence Awareness Month - September

Life Without Limits - Don't Let Bladder Problems Rule Your Life!

Incontinence, the loss of bladder and/or bowel control, affects over 280,000 New Zealand men and women of all ages.

Incontinence affects the following groups of people:

a.. 15% of all 5 year olds

b.. One in four women middle-aged or older

c.. 15% of all men aged 60 and over

d.. Many individuals with neurological disorders and spinal cord

Incontinence is not a disease, it is a symptom of something else going on in the body, and should always be assessed and diagnosed by a healthcare professional interested and experienced in incontinence.

Incontinence has many causes, including:

a.. Conditions that affect the nervous system and therefore the communication between the brain and the bladder/sphincter or bowel, e.g. stroke, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, or spinal cord injury;

b.. Consequences of surgery, e.g. prostate surgery;

c.. Side effects of medications e.g. anti-depressants, sedatives, diuretics, or muscle relaxants;

d.. A birth defect of the urinary system;

e.. Weakening of the pelvic floor muscles which may occur, for example, after childbirth or menopause;

f.. Changes that occur with the natural ageing process, such as enlargement of the prostate in men, or the loss of estrogen in women.

Incontinence can almost always either be cured, treated or successfully managed. There are many treatment or management options depending on the nature and cause of the incontinence. Time-scheduled toileting routines, diet/fluid intake changes, or exercises, with or without biofeedback and/or electrical stimulation equipment, may help. For some, medications can help to increase the bladder's ability to empty, to relax the bladder and decrease urgency, or to tighten the sphincter to prevent urine leakage from the bladder. Other options such as surgery, an artificial sphincter, or an injection of a substance into the sphincter muscle, may be recommended.

In the case of people who are physically or cognitively challenged, there are often potential options that can restore or improve continence, such as assistance with toileting, or assistive devices like mobility or communication aids. If incontinence products are required, choosing the most appropriate conduction or containment product can make a world of difference in one's quality of life.

Awareness that there are treatment and management options is the first step. The NZ Continence Assoc. can help put you in contact with a healthcare professional with a special interest and expertise in incontinence. If you require a list of specialists in your area who have a particular interest in incontinence, call The NZ Continence Assoc. at 0800 650 659.

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