What is incontinence?

The word incontinence derives from the Latin word incontinens that literally means “not keeping close to oneself”. By using this word, we mean involuntary loss of urine and/or faeces.

Nowadays medicine sees incontinence as a problem which a patient should become aware of in order to fight it. Very often, especially in case of light incontinence, people don’t admit that they have a problem. They try to deal with it themselves and don’t seek for a doctor’s advice. Unfortunately, very often it results in the deterioration of the situation.

Incontinence can cause many troubles in everyday life. So called bladder weakness may lead to emotional instability, sleep disorders, social problems, limiting activities such as shopping, travelling, active professional life or active leisure.

Incontinence can be treated pharmacologically or surgically, but not all cases qualify to be treated that way – it depends on what the cause of the problem is.

That is why, regardless of the measures taken by the doctor, using auxiliary methods is important – one should keep a balanced diet, proper everyday hygiene, exercise and train the bladder.

To understand the nature of incontinence, we need to have a closer look at the urinary tract.

The urinary tract functions as a regulator of bodily fluids balance by filtering blood and creating urine out of the substances removed from it. The constant work of the kidneys regulates electrolytes and keeps acid-base balance. Within 24 hours about 170-180 litres of blood flows through the kidneys, 1,5 litres of which is excreted as urine. The produced urine is collected in the bladder that stretches while filling in. When the bladder contains 200-300 ml of urine, the receptors in the bladder’s wall give a signal that induces the urge to urinate. The person, whose bladder works correctly, is able to control this feeling and postpone the moment of emptying the bladder.

Malfunction of any of the urinary tract elements can cause involuntary loss of urine. The most common problem is the weakness of the sphincters, kidney disorder or malfunction of the nerve receptors inside the bladder.

Causes of incontinence

Contrary to popular belief, growing old is not the only condition that can cause bladder weakness. Incontinence accompanies many diseases and can be their symptom as well as a result. Moreover, it concerns people of both sexes, regardless of their age and social origin.

The main causes of bladder weakness:

  • Uterine prolapse caused by tumours or weakened pelvic muscles
  • Overload of pelvic muscles caused by overweight, pregnancy, several childbirths
  • Enlargement of the prostate gland (in men)
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Bladder inflammation
  • Mental disorders
  • Parkinson disease
  • Alzheimer disease
  • Inborn defects
  • Surgeries

If the cause of incontinence is curable, the involuntary loss of urine ends with recovery. Otherwise it is possible to reduce frequency and degree of the incontinence or even eliminate it by different sorts of therapies. It is necessary to use special absorbent products dedicated for people with incontinence.

Degrees of incontinence

Regardless of the cause of incontinence, its intensity can be various. In order to make it easier to choose the right absorbent product and ways of dealing with the problem, we divide incontinence into a few degrees. The division is done according to the average volume of urine passed involuntary within 4 hours and is approximate:

 

Statistically, the majority of incontinent people have light incontinence, many of them experience it temporarily because of some kind of medical condition. The smallest number of people have very heavy degree of incontinence that concerns rather bedridden patients and people who are unable to control their physiological functions.

The degree of incontinence is one of the most important factors on what we should depend our choice of an absorbent product. For light and moderate incontinence choose special bladder control pads that are almost invisible under clothes, so will provide you the discretion and the best protection at the same time. For moderate, heavy and very heavy degree of incontinence adult diapers and pull ups would be the best solutions. Remember that it is also crucial to choose right size of the product – otherwise it can’t provide the best protection.

By

-Mrs. Anna Kurakina

 Incontinence expert

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