World Continence Week - Incontince
World Continence Week
Incontinence: Help is at Hand
Incontinence affects one in 10 men and one in three women. While many people don’t seek help, there are a range of treatments available to manage the condition and incontinence sufferers are encouraged to see their GP.
Sydney Adventist Hospital urologist Dr Amanda Chung says that just because incontinence is common, doesn’t mean it’s normal, and people don’t have to suffer for years with the condition.
Instead, Dr Chung, says that she aims to empower people to seek help and know that there are treatments available – most cases of urinary incontinence are curable.
“There are lots of reasons why people don’t seek help,” said Dr Chung. “There can be a misconception that incontinence is a a normal part of ageing or life after childbirth or pelvic cancer surgery. Also, it can be embarrassing to discuss.
“However, I urge people with ongoing symptoms to see their GP to get assessed, and to start with simple non-invasive strategies. Don’t avoid seeking treatment because you think it means surgery.”
Incontinence can negatively affect social engagement, work participation and leisure activities and can take a toll on emotional wellbeing.
The two main types of incontinence include an over-active bladder and stress incontinence. Conservative treatments are non-invasive and can include dietary changes, pelvic floor exercise or fluid management. Medications can help to calm over-active bladders. Sacral neuromodulation, bladder botox and tibial nerve stimulation are advanced therapies that can help in situations where conservative treatments and medications aren’t enough.
Stress incontinence involves the urinary sphincter and pelvic floor. Treatments include exercises or a urethral bulking agent injection – a 15-minute day-admission procedure. More severe cases might require sling or sphincter surgery.
“A GP will determine the type of incontinence and recommend initial strategies,” said Dr Chung. “GPs will refer patients to urologist if they don’t respond to first-line treatments, have particularly severe incontinence or have other symptoms such as blood in the urine. Urologists can then perform more complex urodynamic studies and treatments. That said, the vast majority of people experiencing incontinence can be helped greatly with simple non-surgical treatments.”
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