Double Incontinence - Everything You Need to Know About It

Incontinence in general can be a difficult condition to deal with. Whether it is urinary or faecal incontinence, you’ll need to change your lifestyle in some way to deal with the difficulties of this condition. It can be a debilitating and embarrassing condition, and difficult to discuss as it is still considered a taboo subject. But some patients are diagnosed with a more severe condition known as double incontinence. Today we are going to discuss everything you need to know about double incontinence.

What is Double Incontinence?

The term “double incontinence” is used to describe when urinary incontinence and faecal incontinence occur together. It is also known as combined incontinence. This is considered one of the most debilitating and embarrassing forms of incontinence. It can severely impact a person’s physical, psychological, and psychosocial wellbeing.

Different Types of Incontinence

Most people don’t realise there are multiple types of incontinence, each with different symptoms and causes. However, understanding the types of incontinence you are dealing with is the first step to helping address the problem.

Urge Incontinence

Urge incontinence is one of the most common types of incontinence. It is caused by nerve or muscle damage but it can also be caused by some medical conditions. An overactive bladder can often result in urge incontinence, when the bladder muscle is more active than normal. This results in a sudden intense urge to urinate which in turn leads to accidents as the patient tries to make it to the bathroom. When it comes to urge incontinence, the patient often doesn’t recognise the urge to urinate until it’s too late.

Stress Incontinence

Stress incontinence occurs when the bladder is under sudden pressure. This includes laughing, sneezing, lifting heavy objects, and more. All of which can cause urine leakage. It is usually caused by a weak pelvic floor muscle or damaged sphincter muscle in the urethra which allows urine to leak out. Some patients experience mixed incontinence, a combination of stress and urge incontinence.

Overflow Incontinence

Overflow incontinence occurs when your bladder is filled with too much urine and it overflows. This is also known as chronic urinary retention. For a wide variety of reasons the bladder nerves do not signal to the brain that the bladder needs to be emptied or can’t be emptied fully. It can also take a long time to completely empty the bladder, meaning it becomes overfilled and leaks to relieve pressure.

Functional Incontinence

Functional incontinence occurs when a person has difficulty with one or more of the steps required to reach and/or use the toilet. For example, if someone has limited mobility and can’t get to the toilet in time, or if they suffer from confusion and don't know where to find the toilet. It can also occur when a patient struggles with their clothing due to limited dexterity.

Faecal Incontinence

Faecal incontinence occurs when a person can’t control their bowel movements. This type of incontinence can be caused by a nerve injury or after an illness like inflammatory bowel disease. But a common cause for faecal incontinence is severe or prolonged constipation or diarrhoea. For many, the nerve signals from the rectum do not reach the brain in time, causing an accident before the patient reaches the bathroom.

The Symptoms of Double Incontinence

Double incontinence can present with a wide variety of symptoms. These can include:

  • A sudden and violent urge to defecate that you cannot control
  • Soiling yourself without feeling the need to defecate
  • Faeces leak when you pass wind
  • You are anxious or depressed about your symptoms
  • Bloating, constipation, diarrhoea, and/or excessive passing of wind
  • You no longer socialise and/or find your working life has been impacted
  • Experience skin rashes or irritation from the presence of urine or faeces
  • Sleep quality is hindered by frequent trips to the toilet at night

What Causes Double Incontinence?

Double incontinence can have a range of causes. But it is important to remember that double incontinence is not a disease but is a symptom of a bigger problem. This could be a physical problem, lifestyle issue, or underlying medical conditions. These issues need to be addressed before the incontinence can be treated. The loss of bladder and bowel control might not indicate a serious problem. There are many simple lifestyle changes that can help elevate the problem.

Double incontinence is usually caused by damage to the muscles and nerves that control urination and bowel movements. This damage can be caused by straining during bowel movements, medical conditions, and other physical problems. Thankfully it is often reversible. Connective tissue disease could be the underlying cause of double continence. Crossed reflexes between the pelvic floor, bladder, and urethra could also explain the problem, as can damage to the muscles and sphincters.

How to Treat Double Incontinence

Thankfully, double incontinence is not always a sign of a serious problem or disease. In most cases it can be successfully managed with simple lifestyle changes. The most important thing to do when managing double incontinence is to schedule a visit with your GP. They can help you come up with a plan to manage and treat your problem. This can include some lifestyle changes and products to managed double incontinence, including:

  • Limiting caffeine and alcohol
  • Check your medications for side effects
  • Utilise incontinence products
  • Change aspects of your diet
  • Practice pelvic floor exercises

How to Avoid Double Incontinence?

The best way to treat double incontinence is to prevent it occurring in the first place. Below are some simple ways you can help ensure you avoid this condition:

  • Strengthen your pelvic floor throughout your life so it is stronger as you age or in the event of illness
  • Eat a diet rich in high fibre food to reduce episodes of constipation and straining to defecate
  • Avoid straining when defecating or urinating as this can put real pressure on the abdominal muscles
  • Having a high BMI can lead to instances of incontinence as well as put you at risk of other illnesses
  • Control events of diarrhoea by avoiding intolerances and intestinal infections where possible
  • Quit smoking as it can cause coughing. Coughing can weaken the muscles in your bladder and bowels
  • Stay hydrated by drinking at least 6-8 glasses of water, juice and/or herbal tea a day, unless otherwise advised by your GP

Need help managing your incontinence issues? Holistic Incontinence has a wide range of supplies and incontinence products for all kinds of incontinence issues. Our friendly staff can also help you choose the right products for your needs.