Incontinence and Teenagers – Growing Up with Incontinence
Incontinence can affect anyone at any age, for a variety of reasons. And while incontinence can be difficult for adults and the elderly to deal with, it can be even harder as a teen. It is a challenge that can leave a child or teenager embarrassed and socially isolated. Today we’re going to discuss how incontinence can affect teenagers, why it occurs, and how you can manage it.
What Types of Incontinence Can Teenagers Suffer From?
There are three main categories of teenage incontinence. These are:
This occurs when the bladder muscles are put under stress. This stress is usually caused by pressure on the bladder. Leakage occurs when you cough or exercise.
With urge incontinence, you will feel an overwhelming urge to urinate. Leakage can occur before you reach a bathroom.
This occurs when involuntary leakage happens during the night. It can also present as the urge to urinate as soon as one wakes up or can wake you up during the night.
What Can cause Incontinence in Teenagers?
As with adults, there are a variety of reasons why a teenager may develop incontinence. These include:
According to pelvic reconstructive surgeons and urogynaecologists, one of the reasons why teenagers can suffer incontinence is due to congenital abnormalities. There are a number of different congenital abnormalities in children and teenagers such as:
- Chromosome abnormalities
- Single-gene abnormalities
- Genetic issues
- Conditions during pregnancy
This is why it is important to discuss the issue with your doctor. While not all congenital abnormalities can be fixed, your doctor can help you improve your symptoms or better manage the condition.
Urinary Tract Infections or Cystitis
If you develop incontinence after becoming sexually active, this could be the sign of a UTI or bladder infection. UTIs and cystitis can create an urge to empty your bladder, however you can only pass a little urine at a time. It can also cause leakage before you reach the bathroom.
Painful urination, stinging or burning sensations are all signs of a UTI. It can also result in cloudy or bloody urine. If left untreated, UTIs and cystitis can lead to permanent issues with emptying the bladder, overflow incontinence and even over-distention.
Again, it is always important to see a doctor if you’re suffering from any of these issues, as treatment is generally very easy.
If you are taking medications for other conditions, incontinence can be a side effect. Both sedatives and muscle relaxants can reduce bladder control. Medications for the heart or blood pressure can also impact the bladder. If you notice the onset of incontinence occurring after starting a new medication, contact your doctor immediately. Do not stop your medications as this can cause many more issues. Your doctor will be able to advise you if this is a temporary side effect, or if you need to try another medication.
Chronic Illnesses and Auto-Immune Conditions
Unfortunately, chronic illnesses, disease and auto immune disorders can occur at any age. And some of these conditions present with incontinence as a symptom. These can include nerve damage, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s Disease, colitis, diabetes, cystic fibrosis, chronic constipation and more. If you haven’t discussed this with your specialist or if this symptom has just begun, it is important to talk to your doctor. It could be a symptom of your condition or a side effect of your medication, and it could be treated.
Injuries or High Impact Sports
One of the most common causes of urinary incontinence is sports injuries from high impact sports such as running or gymnastics. Any sport where you hit the ground with force. This is can cause damage to the pelvic muscles over time. Further, this can also occur if your pelvic muscles are weaker than average, due to biological/genetic issues or because the pelvic floor isn’t exercised enough.
Unfortunately, being overweight or obese can increase the chance of incontinence or increase its severity. This is because excess weight can put pressure on the bladder and pelvic floor. Not only does it weaken the pelvic floor, but it increases or causes stress incontinence.
Poor diet can also affect incontinence. Overindulging in foods and drinks that contain caffeine can cause or increase incontinence. This is because caffeine is a diuretic, making you need to urinate more. Discuss the situation with your doctor on how to improve your diet and lose weight healthily.
How Incontinence Affects Teenagers
Incontinence can have serious affects on teenagers in their most important, formative years. Not only does it cause embarrassment, many teenagers shut themselves off from friends, relationships and more.
While some teenagers can hide their issues, others struggle to do so.
If you’re suffering from incontinence, making friends and dating can seem terrifying. Going out with friends or going on a date can seem like an incredible hurdle to pass. Further, the stress of not knowing where a bathroom is or how long you’ll be gone can make matters worse. Having someone come too near and finding out your problem can feel both scary and humiliating.
It can help to know that many people who suffer incontinence have long, fulfilling relationships – including intimate ones. And while it might seem unobtainable, it will happen.
While it might seem lie a terrifying concept, but talking about your incontinence can help. Seeking help from family and doctors might lead to treatment or cure for your incontinence, rather than suffering in silence.
School and Studying
Research has shown that teenagers with incontinence are at a greater risk of underachieving at school. Further, they need more support to remove barriers so they can reach their academic potential.
Incontinence is one of the most common paediatric health problems. However, it is commonly believed that incontinence problems will resolve with age in all children. But severe incontinence in childhood can persist into adolescence. There are around 3-4% suffering from urinary incontinence and 1% suffering from bowel incontinence.
Many teenagers feel that there are in danger of bullying and stigmatising, if they disclose their issue to friends or teachers. This feeling of not being able to disclose means that supporting young people at school is difficult. Teachers and school staff need increased awareness of incontinence issues in young people and how to provide guidance as needed.
Students find that their education is also disrupted by having to leave class for frequent toilet visits. Some have to leave class 3 or 4 times. As a result, many would fall behind in their lessons or lose time in exams because they had to step out.
For those where bathroom leave was denied, their concentration was affected due to their continence needs or anxiety about possible accidents. This is particularly difficult for teenagers as school will have a direct impact on further education and employment.
As a result, many agree that work needs to be done to improve school life for young people with incontinence.
How to Manage Incontinence as a Teenager
Thankfully, there are many ways to help support a teenager through incontinence issues. These include:
Choosing the Right Incontinence Product
Finding the right product is important. There are products designed to manage heavy incontinence, light incontinence, day and night-time incontinence, and more. Holistic Incontinence carries a wide range of products that you can browse through, to find the solution right for you.
If your incontinence is lighter, you can start with more discreet options, like small pads or pull up pants specifically designed for incontinence. It is important not to use panty liners or period pads as these are not designed for urine or faecal incontinence.
However, if your incontinence is heavier, choose more absorbent pull up pants or all-in-one pads. People prefer pull ups as they allow more freedom of movement. However, all-in-ones generally have more absorbency.
There are products specifically designed for faecal incontinence. For heavy faecal incontinence, a highly absorbent product is best.
See a Doctor
If you are experiencing any type of incontinence, it is important that you see a doctor. Incontinence can be cured in many cases, some cases require medication adjustments and, in other cases, methods of managing your incontinence can be suggested. It is important to remember that this condition is more common than your think. And there are ways to improve your life.
Explore Holistic Incontinence today for more information on our products.