Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Incontinence: The Silent Condition

Incontinence is a topic that is hard to discuss for many people. The ability to control our bodily functions, once mastered as a child for typical individuals, is an essential part of the definition of “healthy” for most adults. When a temporary or permanent condition causes urinary incontinence, individuals go through a period of adjustment that is often accompanied by sadness, depression, and sometimes more prominent emotional responses. The inability to control the flow of urine equates for many with this condition a lack of control in general, causing for some embarrassment or a desire to limit social contact. A study completed by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services over 10 years ago noted that over 13 million people suffer from urinary incontinence in the U.S. The number is probably greater as there are numerous individuals who suffer in silence, purchasing over the counter briefs and pads, some even hiding the condition from their family members.

Incontinence affects 10%- 30% of women in the general population of those aged 15 to 65 versus only 1.5% - 5% of men. Nearly half of all those in nursing homes throughout the country are have urinary incontinence, 70% of those are women. As with all conditions, the causes are varied and dependent generally on a multitude of factors. There is the acute and temporary incontinence caused either by childbirth, medication, limited mobility, or a urinary tract infection. While affecting individuals in the same ways as does more permanent instances of incontinence, individuals with these temporary conditions often find treatments that resolve the situation fairly quickly.

Chronic incontinence is often caused by birth defects, bladder muscle weakness, nerve disorders, spinal cord injuries, or a blocked urethra brought about by the presence of a tumor or some benign prostate conditions. Vaginal prolapse, which occurs when the muscles and tissues designed to hold organs in place around the vagina, weaken, causing the protrusion of an organ in the pelvis (e.g, uterus, urethra, bladder) or the walls of the vaginal vault weaken. This event causes pressure that results in urinary incontinence.

Diagnosis includes common techniques of urinalysis to sophisticated testing, some of which involves invasive surgical techniques. Treatments, too, include non-surgical solutions, medications, surgical- and self-catheterization, and state-of-the-art surgical implants designed to simulate urinary processes.

One of my own family members suffered from incontinence on the heels of a series of surgeries that started with a benign prostate condition that was treated surgically and then further complicated by a later episode of prostate cancer, treated with radiation seeds. While the results of all procedures were considered “successful” by medical measures in so far as the situations were eventually corrected and the cancer contained and eliminated, this family member was left ultimately with severe urinary incontinence. He became an expert at various brands of briefs, and types of bags to carry products in. He worked hard to keep his spirits high, in spite of the constant weight and worry on him.

He admitted, however, to feeling depressed and low quite often. He also assessed every invitation and opportunity to travel based on where restrooms were located and how frequently he had to stop to change briefs and pads. His normal enthusiasm for life and its adventures waned for a few years while he struggled with this condition. He learned of an implant technique, pioneered at a university hospital near his home, that held the promise of helping solve his urinary incontinence. But he had concerns about the notion of plastic and metal parts living inside him for the rest of his life. Given the fact that with every procedure to date he had fallen into the statistical deviations, he did not have a lot of confidence that this procedure would yield higher odds for what he considered success. Finally, however, he ventured into the process that took a number of months to complete.

It’s been about three years now since he underwent the surgical implant that turned out to be the charm for controlling his condition. His confidence is restored and he has reengaged fully in his life, traveling and participating easily in events. He wears a medical alert bracelet that will help avert any internal problems if he is in an accident or requires emergency treatment. Apart from that, there are no signs to the rest of us that he has been through one of life’s difficult passages, dealing with chronic urinary incontinence.

Please investigate our line of incontinence products at Capabilities. We feature Tena brand with a reputation for comfort and protection unmatched in the industry.

What’s your story? Have you or someone in your life faced temporary or chronic incontinence? If you have questions, solutions or would like more information on the surgical implant, please email or post your comments.

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