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The Importance of Patient-Physician Communication About Incontinence

Brooke Phillips, CWCMS
Editor | Shield HealthCare
01/21/14  12:05 AM PST
How to talk to your doctor or patient about incontinence

Incontinence Statistics

A third of men and women ages 30-70 have experienced loss of bladder control at some point in their adult lives and may still be living with the symptoms. Meanwhile, 2/3 of those who experience loss of bladder control do not use any treatment or product to manage their incontinence. Furthermore, 2/3 of adults have never discussed bladder health with their doctor. Men are even less likely to do so and are therefore less likely to be diagnosed than women.

Risk Factors and Common Terms

Knowing that most patients get less than 10 minutes with their doctor at an appointment, it is best to know what risk factors should be discussed that can lead to the development of incontinence. These include:

  • Pelvic trauma
  • Medication side effects or use of diuretics
  • Decreased fluid intake
  • Weakened pelvic muscles
  • Previous urinary tract infections
  • Cognitive impairments
  • Loss of muscle control
  • Unsteady gait while walking
  • Poor nutrition
  • Household hazards

It is also important that patients and providers be well versed in incontinence terms to help the discussions progress easily. Below is a list of common terms related to incontinence:

  • Anticholinergic agents: Drugs that can cause or contribute to incontinence by inducing constipation and thus impaction of stool with chronic retention of urine
  • Bladder retraining: Bladder training is an education program that teaches the person to restore a normal pattern of voiding by setting scheduled voidings to achieve longer time intervals between voiding
  • Continence: The ability to exercise voluntary control over the urge to urinate until an appropriate time and place can be found
  • Diuretic: An agent that promotes the excretion of urine
  • Enuresis: The involuntary loss of urine during sleep
  • Gastroenterologist: A physician who specializes in problems of the intestinal system
  • Geriatrician: A physician who specializes in diagnosing and treating the health disorders of older people
  • Nocturia: Excessive urination at night, or awakening at night by the need to void
  • Sphincter: A ring-like band of muscle fibers that closes a natural opening. Tightening the urethral sphincter controls the urge to urinate
  • Urgency: An intense desire to void immediately

Incontinence does not need to be embarrassing or shameful. Proper management of it can greatly improve the lives of those affected. Proper management is often as simple as choosing the correct absorbent products for the need of the patient.

Click here to learn more about the different types of incontinence, incontinence products and treatment options.

This article was written by a contributing author at Shield HealthCare.

References:

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