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Wednesday January 7, 2015

IUGM'S COLUMN Incontinence

Today, we will cover a subject that may be difficult to discuss for some. Despite the growing number of TV ads that show how easy it is to manage incontinence issues, most people are still uncomfortable talking openly about it.  
Incontinence is defined by the inability to hold the urge to urinate and experiencing involuntary urine leaks, even if it’s just a few drops. Incontinence affects men and women alike, regardless of their age. Studies have shown that up to 15% of men and 55% of women aged 60 years and over have experienced incontinence.
Despite that some of the causes for incontinence are age-related, this issue can be treated and cured – it can even be prevented. Incontinence is not related to the normal aging process; you shouldn’t just accept to be told that “it’s normal for your age”.  
Possible causes:

Many factors can contribute to incontinence, such as the consumption of certain foods or drinks, various diseases or disorders, or certain medications. By controlling these factors, you may be able to greatly reduce or even eliminate incontinence symptoms.   
Food and drink
• Caffeine (tea, coffee, chocolate, soft drinks)
• Alcohol
• Highly acidic fruits and juices (orange, lemon, grapefruit, tomatoes)
• Spicy foods
• Excessive consumption of liquids (more than 2 litres per day)
Diseases and disorders
• Prostatic hypertrophy
• Parkinson’s disease
• Spine injuries
• Multiple sclerosis
• Stroke
• Swollen ankles
• Constipation
• Reduced estrogen levels at menopause
• Surgery to the perineum, the prostate or the abdomen
• Obesity
• Dementia
• Chronic cough (related to smoking or other causes)
• Sleeping pills
• Diuretics
• Anti-depressants
• High blood pressure medications
• Heart medications


Thankfully, many solutions can help with this issue! 50-85% of incontinence cases may be cured, or at least improved, if you apply lifestyle changes or if you use simple treatment options. 
The urinary diary
During two or three non-consecutive days (if possible), keep a diary of your urinating habits: write down the number of times you go to the bathroom, as well as the amount and types of liquids that you drink throughout the day. This urinary diary will allow you to get an overview of your daily habits, and help you determine the type of incontinence that you’re experiencing. In addition, it will allow you to evaluate if your condition improves after having applied the various tips provided in this document. To do so, simply write down your observations for a few days before changing your habits, and then fill your diary again approximately one month after having changed your habits. Should you elect to meet with a physician about this issue, the information in your diary will greatly help in choosing the most appropriate treatment for you.

Your diary should include the following information:

1. Time of day when you urinate
2. Whether your need to urinate is urgent or not
3. Whether you experience involuntary leaks during the day 
4. Circumstances of urine leaks (when coughing, sneezing or laughing; when standing up, when locking the door, etc.)
5. Type and amount of liquids consumed throughout the day
In our next issue, we will discuss the various tips and simple exercises that you can do to help fight incontinence.

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