Stop Worrying About Incontinence And Start Living
Have you recently been diagnosed with incontinence? Maybe you’ve been experiencing symptoms and you’re not quite sure what to do about it. Perhaps you’ve been living with incontinence for some time, thinking it will go away on its own or you’re just too ashamed to talk about it.
Whatever the reason, the good news is, incontinence can be effectively treated.
Living with incontinence is not only a physical problem. It can impact your mental and emotional state as well. It’s also fairly common. According to NHS statistics, there are between 3 and 6 million people in the UK living with some degree of urinary incontinence. This number may actually be higher, as a lot of people still consider it a taboo topic, too embarrassing to talk about.
Incontinence can also be a temporary side effect of other treatment such prostatectomies in men, or something women might develop after giving birth.
In these cases, people may not feel they need to get treatment for the problem, hoping it will just disappear. Most of the time it will, but if it doesn’t, you may find yourself inadvertently adapting your life around your incontinence.
As it’s a fairly common problem, there has been a lot of research on the topic in recent years. This means there are many treatment options available. Ignoring the problem won’t always work, so it’s good to seek professional help early on to avoid any long-term impact on your life.
What are some of the side-effects of living with incontinence?
It can disrupt your sleep – if you’re living with incontinence, you might dread going to sleep at night due to the overwhelming concern that you might wet the bed. This means waking regularly through the night and going to the toilet just to be on the safe side. This then has an adverse effect on how you function during the day leading to poor concentration as well as a reduced immune system.
It can affect your sex life – incontinence can lower your confidence level, making you shy away from intimacy wherever possible. This might lead to ongoing low moods, loneliness and possibly even depression. If you’re currently in a relationship, it might even put additional strain on this aspect of your life.
Everyday life can be stressful – leaking urine can lead to stains and patches on your clothing. Odours can be a problem as well. This is enough to make anyone avoid public places for fear of the embarrassment of being noticed.
Your job may be affected – depending on the type of work you do, you may not have the option to be close to a toilet all the time. This can make your work life particularly difficult to manage. If you do have access to a toilet, regular trips away from your work station may get the boss looking your way. This can lead to concerns and worries about job security, creating further stress and anxiety.
You may need to change what you wear – People living with incontinence may not want to wear light clothing as these may show leaks more than dark clothing would. This could limit the variety of choice you previously had, restricting you to certain types of clothing. This, in turn, can have an effect on your self-confidence.
Listing these side effects is not to scare you, but to help you consider the impact incontinence can have on your life. You might therefore find it helpful to take action early on and get help from someone who can treat the problem.
The long-term implications of incontinence can have a devastating effect on your life. It’s important to seek help.
What can I do about it?
Living with incontinence can certainly have an effect on the way you do things. You may find that you have to adapt your life to fit in with your incontinence by making sure you’re close to a toilet when you’re out or having to carry around pads and extra clothing. It can be frustrating and tiring which can then make the situation worse and create a knock-on effect on your mood and mental well-being.
It is therefore important to get the right help as soon as you can before it becomes a serious problem. Go to your GP. If this hasn’t helped, get hold of one of the numerous charities who support people with incontinence. They can provide additional help as well as emotional support – many of the people involved with these charities have lived with incontinence at some point in their lives.
Try the forums within these communities. You can stay anonymous if you wish and can get ideas or suggestions from people who have been through similar experiences. Just make sure you talk to your doctor before trying any medicine or other invasive techniques suggested by unqualified people.
I’m worried the problem can only be treated with surgery
Treating incontinence can be done in many ways. One of the misconceptions is that surgery is the first line of treatment. Understandably, this can put a lot of people off seeking out help. The truth, however, is that surgery is most likely the last resort. There are plenty of alternatives before surgery becomes an option.
Some of the treatments you’re likely to be prescribed may include:
- Behavioral therapies such as bladder training
- Pelvic floor exercises
- Lifestyle changes such as a healthy, balanced diet to maintain a healthy weight
- Avoiding alcohol
Many of these treatments are discreet and easy to do. They don’t require hospital visits or regular meetings with anyone. Much of it is really up to you.
If unfortunately, the problem does not go away with these initial treatments, there are a number of surgical procedures that can be performed that have a high success rate in treating incontinence.
Remember, try not to let the incontinence control you. Stick to your plans. Get out of the house. See your friends and family. Try to be as normal as possible. Incontinence can be beaten with the right approach and the right attitude.