Leaky plumbing? Call your doctor
"I have leaky plumbing," she finally confessed to her best friend.
"Have you called the plumber?" her friend asked.
"It's not that kind," she whispered, mortified.
Worry about staying independent at home, fear of having an accident while out in public, embarrassment about possible odors, concern about underlying health problems... No wonder incontinence is an underreported problem.
"One of the worst outcomes of incontinence is that people limit their activities, missing out on the things they enjoy in life,” says Katie Wood, PT, of Peacehealth Southwest Physical Therapy. “Incontinence is a very common, and embarrassing, problem. It’s important to take control of your health in order to get your life back.”
When diagnosing the cause, your doctor may ask questions about when and how often you experience involuntary bladder control. A physical exam may include your abdomen, rectum, genitals, pelvis, and general neurological status. Lab results of your urinalysis also may help provide answers.
“I encourage everyone to talk with their doctor about their treatment options, which may include pelvic floor physical therapy, medications, or surgery,” Wood continues. “Managing your incontinence can make a big difference in how you feel and reduce your risk for urinary tract infections. A pelvic floor physical therapist can make recommendations about your diet, modifying your activities, using the proper absorbent products to decrease skin irritation, and design a specific exercise program to meet your needs.”
“You are not alone,” Wood concludes. “Incontinence can be improved, regardless of your age. Contact your doctor to get on the road to regaining your confidence, independence, and health!”