LIVING WITH INCONTINENCE
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One in five Australians will experience Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS, at some stage in their life, so know the symptoms as well as when to see your doctor.
What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?
A syndrome is a group of symptoms that occur together, indicating a particular abnormality or condition. In the case of IBS, that 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 Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Symptoms 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:
When to see the doctor
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.
How is IBS diagnosed?
Diagnosis can include:
If the doctor suspects something other than IBS, additional tests may be required.
While IBS can affect anyone, some risk factors increase the likelihood of having the condition.
The precise cause of IBS is unknown, but ‘triggers’ have been identified and include:
How is IBS treated?
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 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.
Incontinence and IBS
Urinary and faecal (or bowel) incontinence can be experienced with IBS. 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.