It can be difficult to live with incontinence or IBS. It can also be difficult to maintain your dignity, to feel comfortable in social situations, and to avoid living in a constant state of anxiety. Most people dealing with incontinence aren’t aware that as much as 15% of the population shares in their pain. There are a few practical and mental tricks and practices that can make incontinence less of a burden, and allow you to get on with your life.
Incontinence, in most cases, is a symptom, not a diagnosis. It can be caused by any number of things, including:
Multiple Sclerosis or many types of spinal injury
Injury or trauma
Issues related to aging.
Additionally, functional incontinence can be caused by debilitating conditions such as arthritis; while your body can control functions normally, you simply aren’t physically able to make it to the lavatory in time to vacate in the toilet.
It isn’t something to be ashamed or embarrassed of, particularly as you age. There are coping practices available to you, and resources to help deal. There are also people – probably in your life, right now – who are going through it as well. Professional help is a first step, but the following tips can help you develop a healthy daily routine:
How to Help Yourself
Don’t Panic: Believe it or not, stress contributes to your problem, no matter the cause. Trust your body. It’s common to experience the initial urges to use the bathroom and begin to panic, but that reaction is wrong. Everyone feels the urges, and you should develop a realistic idea of your body’s behavior in that situation, rather than overreacting by rushing to a bathroom in distress. In the end, you’ve only worsened your problem. Take deep breaths and stay calm; avoiding your body’s stress response will lengthen your time before incontinence strikes.
Plan accordingly: Many people with incontinence feel a sense of shame associated with preparing for their condition. For instance, there is a stigma associated with adult diapers that leads many to avoid them. In reality, there are adult diapers which are very discreet and comfortable. With 25 million or so Americans affected by incontinence, it’s helpful to remind yourself that you are not alone. Don’t be ashamed, and don’t be unprepared.
Address underlying causes: If your incontinence is the result of an underlying condition, address that condition. Sufferers of IBS can help their incontinence with food choices. Sufferers of prostate conditions can take medication or undergo physical therapy to ease their condition. Above all, see your doctor. They are there to help you. If you experience fecal incontinence, you should seek a gastroenterologist.
Keep a change of clothes in the car. This goes along with the “hope for the best, plan for the worst” mentality many incontinence sufferers adopt, and it’s a good move. If all your other efforts fail, at least you’ll have the opportunity to clean up and change.
Just remember to stay calm and breathe!
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Ashely is part of a team of writers that has contributed to health blogs and news site. To see more, follow her on Twitter @ashelymarie1985.