LIVING WITH INCONTINENCE
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A syndrome is a group of symptoms that occur together, indicating a particular abnormality or condition. In the case of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, this can include abdominal cramps, persistent diarrhoea, constipation or a fluctuation between the two.
The disease is classified into three main types, based on the dominant symptom:
The condition itself occurs when the large intestines or colon, are either over or under-active. In normal function, the colon removes water and salt from the waste product delivered to it from the stomach. The walls of this nearly two-meter-long organ are lined with thick mucus and contract in waves to push waste through to the small intestines.
If the progress is too fast, insufficient water is removed, and the result is diarrhoea; if the progress is too slow, too much water is absorbed, causing constipation. Further, the large intestines can spasm, causing sharp abdominal pain or become inflamed, which will create a dull ache.
It’s important to note that although IBS can be a painful and annoying condition, it doesn’t cause lasting damage. Nor does it lead to more serious bowel diseases like cancer or colitis.
Symptoms of IBS can vary from person to person and even within the same person; coming and going, as well as being more and less severe.
That said, typical symptoms include:
The symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome are not exclusive to the condition and can also be indicators of other, more serious diseases. This is especially the case if you’re also experiencing any of the following:
Abdominal pain and cramping can also be caused by endometritis, Chron’s disease, colitis (or Inflammatory Bowel Disease), polyps, Coeliac disease, lactose intolerance or other food intolerances.
The nature of IBS symptoms is that they are common and don’t pose any long-term health issues However, it’s still wise to consult with your doctor to rule out other possible causes.
Diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome can include:
If the doctor suspects something other than IBS symptoms, additional tests may be required.
While IBS can affect anyone, some risk factors increase the likelihood of having the condition.
Women are more likely to experience IBS than men, with oestrogen thought to be a trigger. That’s because there is a correlation with IBS episodes and having your menstrual period, as well as an increased incidence among women on HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy).
Many sufferers first experience IBS in early adulthood. It’s uncommon for it to appear over the age of forty, so if you are older and experiencing symptoms, make an appointment with your doctor.
IBS can run in the family, suggesting a genetic predisposition can be a factor.
There is a strong correlation between depression and anxiety and IBS. A traumatic childhood where sexual, physical or emotional abuse has occurred may also increase the likelihood of experiencing IBS.
The precise cause of IBS is unknown, but ‘triggers’ have been identified and include:
Although a small number of medications have been developed to treat IBS, safety concerns have led to them to being withdrawn from the Australian market. Currently, there are no approved medications to treat the condition. Acquiring such medicine, for example, over the internet, is NOT recommended.
Acceptable treatments of IBS include:
If you’d like to explore dietary options, ask your doctor for a referral to a dietician who’ll be able to assist with a tailored program.
Urinary and faecal (or bowel) incontinence can be experienced with irritable bowel syndrome. While IBS itself isn’t the cause, constipation is. When the bowel is full of hard, dry stool, it can press on the bladder, reducing its capacity and increasing the need to void more frequently.
Further, frequent straining when passing a bowel motion weakens and damage the pelvic floor muscle. This muscle plays a significant role in bowel and bladder function, particularly the ability to ‘hold on’ when experiencing the urge to urinate or defecate. A weak pelvic floor can lead to faecal incontinence, from staining amounts when passing wind, liquid leaks or full stools. Similarly, an inability to ‘hold on’ can cause a small leakage of urine through to the complete loss of a full bladder (because the flow can’t be stopped once started).
Constipation can present with misleading diarrhoea-like symptoms. This is when the bowel is impacted with hard matter, and only liquid waste can pass to be expelled.
If you are experiencing incontinence, don’t put up with it. Find out more in these articles:
TENA has a range of products suitable to help with the management of both urinary and faecal incontinence. For small leaks, TENA Liners may be sufficient to protect your underwear. For more significant urine leaks, check out the extensive range of TENA Pads and TENA Pants.
Faecal incontinence needs to be changed immediately to avoid skin irritation. If you’re suffering from both urinary and faecal incontinence, TENA Duo Protective Layer has been designed as a top layer for urinary incontinence products. This allows the faecal matter to be swiftly removed without soiling the product underneath.
Deciding on the right product can be challenging. If you’re still uncertain, try TENA’s Product Finder Tool where you can also order free samples.
Asaleo Care makes no warranties or representations regarding the completeness or accuracy of the information. This information should be used only as a guide and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional, medical or other health professional advice.