Common Myths, Misconceptions, and Misinformation About Incontinence:
- Incontinence is not a disease after all, but simply a "natural"
consequence of aging. False.
While incontinence or bladder leakage is not a "disease" per se, it
certainly is not "natural" or "normal." Incontinence can be a result of another
disease or an intrinsic problem related to the bladder itself or the nervous
system. You owe it to yourself to see your doctor if you have any urinary
leakage at all.
- Incontinence isn't serious enough for me to worry about. False.
Incontinence is potentially serious because it indicates that the bladder
and its supporting structures or related organ systems are not functioning
properly. People with incontinence also have a higher incidence of bladder
infections and depression. In addition, people with incontinence generally
report a gradual change in their activities of daily living as a result of
the unpredictable, inconvenient, and embarrassing nature of incontinence.
It can interfere with just about everything from sleeping to intimate relations
to sports and dancing, and even laughing.
- I'm healthy and I take good care of myself. I can't be at risk.
incontinence often affects men and women with no particular risk factors and
with no particular symptoms. In addition, many people with incontinence do
have risk factors that they are not aware of.
- I'm too young to worry about incontinence now.
False. You may be too young to worry, but you're not to young to develop bladder
problems. One out of three women with stress urinary incontinence develop
symptoms before the age of 35!
- I do my Kegel exercises religiously. That will prevent
bladder problems. False. While Kegel exercises may be effective in
preventing stress urinary incontinence in some women, they do not prevent
SUI in all women and they don't have any benefit for urge incontinence or
- I'm too old to do anything about incontinence. False.
Just as you're never too young to start incontinence therapy, you're never
too old to take action to keep it from getting worse. It's never too late
to improve your lifestyle habits and it's never too late to begin treatment
with one of the several medications available.
- Why bother making a diagnosis? There is no satisfactory treatment
and no hope for a cure. False. Several medicines are now available
to treat incontinence. FDA-approved medications include:
In addition, we know that the urinary tract
of menopausal women benefits from estrogen replacement therapy. While this is
not a treatment for incontinence, it may help as part of a total management
strategy. Lifestyle changes such as eliminating bladder irritants like smoking
and drinking caffeine are also very helpful.
Many patients with stress incontinence also benefit from devices like Impress®,
Reliance®, or Introl®. In some cases, surgical approaches may also be recommended.
- Only "old ladies" get incontinence. False. While
most patients with incontinence are postmenopausal women, incontinence can
affect both men and women, at any age.
- Incontinence doesn't kill anyone. True. However,
an incontinence patient once wisely observed that while incontinence doesn't
kill you, it can "take your life."
Click here for more information on incontinence or bladder leakage.
Click here for more information about depression or other mental health issues.
Created: 7/11/2002  - Donnica Moore, M.D.
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