Chances are, you’ve probably heard of incontinence and have an idea of what it may be. However, incontinence is something you probably don’t think about, and most probably won’t, unless it affects you.

Whether that’s directly or indirectly, if it does come into your life, you’ll be left wondering what is incontinence? Therefore, we’ve created an overview of what it is, what causes incontinence, the types of incontinence, how to treat incontinence and a few helpful tips for living with incontinence.

Affecting both men and women across the UK, incontinence is when you’re unable to control either your bowel or bladder, which can lead to accidental leakage.

Known as urinary and bowel incontinence, several types of incontinence fall under these two, with an estimated three to six million people in the UK living with a form of urinary incontinence alone.

What are the types of incontinence?

Incontinence doesn’t simply come in one form, and while millions of people across the UK live with the condition, each person may be living with a different form of incontinence.

Below, we’ve highlighted the various types of incontinence:

  • Stress incontinence – This is when you leak urine after your bladder has been put under stress from laughing or coughing.
  • Urge incontinence – This is when you have the sudden urge to urinate, with urine often leaking out before you have the chance to reach the toilet.
  • Mixed incontinence – Some people live with a combination of both stress and urge incontinence, meaning they experience the symptoms of both.
  • Overflow incontinence –This is used to describe a form of incontinence which you’re unable to fully empty your bladder. This can then lead to leakage. Overflow incontinence can also be associated with the bowel, especially if a person is suffering from constipation.
  • Bowel incontinence – Also known as faecal incontinence, this is when a person is unable to control movements of their bowel. This that can result in the involuntary passing of stools.
  • Nocturnal enuresis –Most commonly known as bedwetting, this isn’t something that only affects children. The symptoms of bedwetting are similar to those of urge incontinence.

What causes incontinence?

While there are many different forms of incontinence, there are a variety of elements that contribute to both urinary and bowel incontinence.

These can include:

Urinary incontinence

  • Overactive bladder
  • An enlarged prostate in men
  • Pregnancy and childbirth
  • Changes to the nerves controlling the bladder
  • Weak pelvic floor muscles
  • Neurological conditions like Parkinson’s
  • Certain medication
  • Too much caffeine or alcohol
  • Urinary tract infections

Bowel incontinence

  • Weak bowel muscles
  • Bowel problems from birth
  • Changes to the nerves
  • Diarrhoea
  • Medication
  • Childbirth
  • haemorrhoids

How can you treat incontinence?

As mentioned, incontinence is a very individual thing, which comes down to the various types of incontinence that can be experienced by a person.

Therefore, there are several ways to help a person manage a weak bladder and incontinence. However, these won’t work for everyone and in some cases, there isn’t anything that can be done.

Some treatments can include:

  • Medications
  • Pelvic floor exercises
  • Bowel strengthening exercises
  • Bladder and bowel training
  • Surgery
  • Diet changes

Tips on living with incontinence

Although treatments can’t and won’t work for many living with incontinence, there are several ways you can prepare yourself to ensure you’re living well with incontinence.

Our key tips for those living with incontinence are:

  • Be prepared – make sure you always have a stock of incontinence products at home, in your car or in a bag that you carry around with you to ensure you’re always ready should anything happen. This is extremely important if you’re travelling on a long journey too.
  • Skincare – incontinence, if not treated properly, can lead to problems with your skin. Therefore, it’s important to make sure you’re washing and drying regularly and properly, removing any residue and helping to prevent broken skin and infection.
  • Dress code – make sure you always dress for comfort and to allow easy access should you need to change any incontinence pads when you’re out and about. Spare clothes are always handy to have with you too.
  • Constipation – if you have urinary incontinence, try and prevent constipation through eating fibre-rich foods and drinking plenty of liquids to ensure you have regular bowel movements, as constipation can put added pressure on your bladder.
  • Stay hydrated – unless instructed to, drink normally. This means getting enough water while cutting back on caffeine and fizzy drinks as you don’t want to dehydrate yourself through the worry of incontinence.

If you need any advice on what causes incontinence, or incontinence care products, please get in touch today.

You can do this by calling us on 01204 895410 between 9 am and 5 pm Monday – Friday and one of our members of staff will be more than happy to help. Alternatively, you can use the enquiry form here, and someone will get back to you within 24-hours.