Incontinence in Australia – Are You One of the 5 Million?

While it is all too often the butt of a joke, incontinence is not just part of aging or motherhood. And it won’t just go away on its own. Incontinence is incredibly common and affects more than 5 million Australians, women, men and children included. But fewer than 1 in 3 people actually seek help for incontinence.

What is Incontinence?

Incontinence is known as any accidental or involuntary loss of urine from the bladder or bowel motion or wind from the bowel. This can be anything from a small leak to the complete loss of control. However incontinence can be managed, treated and, in some cases, cured.

What Causes Incontinence?

Urinary incontinence can be associated with a number of causes, including:

  • Pregnancy
  • Childbirth
  • Menopause
  • Paraplegia
  • Profound disability
  • Chronic conditions:
    • Asthma
    • Diabetes
    • Dementia
    • Arthritis

Faecal incontinence/loss of bowel control/accidental bowel leakage is associated with a number of causes, including:

  • Pregnancy
  • Aging
  • Some surgeries
  • Radiation therapy
  • Constipation
  • Severe diarrhoea
  • IBS
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
    • Crohn’s disease
    • Ulcerative colitis

As a result it is little wonder that incontinence is a challenge for many Australians of all ages and genders.

Are You Incontinent?

If you’ve come to this blog you might already be suffering from incontinence or wondering if you are. If you are still researching your symptoms, consider these questions:

  • Do you have to rush to the toilet?
  • Do you sometimes feel you have not completely emptied your bladder?
  • Do you wake up twice or more during the night to use the bathroom?
  • Do you sometimes leak when lifting something heavy?
  • Do you leak sometimes if you sneeze?
  • Do you leak sometimes if you cough?
  • Do you leak sometimes if you laugh?
  • Do you sometimes leak before you get to the bathroom?
  • Are you often nervous or worried because you think you might lose control of your bladder or bowels?
  • Do you sometimes leak when you exercise or play sport?
  • Do you plan your routine around where the nearest bathroom is?
  • Do you sometimes leak when you change from a seated or lying position to a standing position?

If you answered yes to any of these questions then it is possible you have a bladder or bowel control problem. It is important you discuss the issue with your doctor to get a treatment plan in place so you can manage your condition. Further, treatment is available with lifestyle changes, pelvic floor exercises, medication, surgery and aids including pads, guards and other incontinence aids.

The Most Common Form of Incontinence is Stress Incontinence

Stress incontinence is defined as leaking small amounts of urine during activities that increase pressure inside the abdomen and push on the bladder. It occurs often when coughing, laughing, sneezing, walking, lifting or playing sport.

Urge Incontinence

A sudden and strong need to urinate is known as Urge Incontinence. It is also referred to as unstable or overactive bladder. More rarely it is known as  detrusor instability. The cause of urge incontinence is not fully understood, however it seems more common with age. Symptoms appear worse with stress, caffeine, soft drinks, and alcohol. It is also linked with strokes, Parkinson’s disease, MS, and other health conditions that interfere with the brain’s ability to send messages to the bladder via the spinal cord.

Chronic Retention Incontinence

This occurs when the bladder is unable to empty properly and frequent leakage of small amounts of urine occurs as a result. There are several causes for this type of incontinence, including:

  • Urethra blockage caused by a full bladder
    • The full bladder puts pressure n the urethra making it difficult to pass urine
  • An enlarged prostate
  • A prolapse of pelvic organs that can block the urethra
  • Damage to the nerves that control the:
    • Bladder
    • Urethral sphincter
    • Pelvic floor muscles
  • Diabetes
  • MS (multiple sclerosis)
  • Stroke
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Some medications (including herbal products)

Functional Incontinence

This occurs when a person does not recognise the need to go to the toiler or does not recognise where the toiler is. This means they pass urine or faecal matter in inappropriate places. Functional incontinence can be caused by:

  • Dementia
  • Poor eyesight
  • Poor mobility
  • Poor dexterity
    • Deteriorating fine motor skill making removing clothing difficult
  • An unwillingness to use the bathroom caused by:
    • Depression
    • Anxiety
    • Anger
  • Environmental factors:
    • Poor lighting
    • Low chairs that are difficult to get out of
    • Toilets that are difficult to access

If you or a loved one are suffering from incontinence or you suspect incontinence is a problem, seek medical advice. Further, incontinence products are available online for easy – and discreet – purchase for all ages and concerns. Explore Holistic Incontinence’s range today.




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