While that maybe not what Shakespeare had in mind as a rip off from his famous line from act 3, Hamlet, it is a question worth asking as we head into World Continence Week.
Frankly, it’s not such an easy choice for someone affected by some form of incontinence…and there are many.
South West Hospital and Health Service Continence Nurse Specialist Anna Ferrier says incontinence is a widespread condition that ranged in severity from ‘just a small leak’ to complete loss of bladder or bowel control.
“This year, during World Continence Week from 18–24 June, the Continence Foundation of Australia is using humour through its “Laugh without Leaking” campaign to overcome the stigma of incontinence and get people talking about their bladder and bowel troubles.”
Ms Ferrier says the term ‘incontinence’ refers to the accidental or involuntary loss of urine from the bladder (urinary incontinence) or bowel motion, faeces or wind from the bowel (faecal or bowel incontinence).
“Nearly five million Australians have some form of bladder or bowel control problems for a variety of reasons – so you are certainly not alone if you are affected. The good news is that incontinence can be treated and managed.’
“In many cases it can also be cured. Changes such as adopting a healthier diet and lifestyle; incorporating regular exercise and practising good toilet habits can all lead to improvements.”
Ms Ferrier says a wide range of physical and medical conditions could contribute to the development of incontinence issues such as pregnancy, obesity, mobility problems, menopause, some types of surgery, some medications and health conditions such as diabetes, stroke, heart conditions or prostate problems.
“Even smoking can contribute to incontinence issues, particularly in women. Research in the United States shows that ‘urge incontinence’ – the strong and sudden urge to urinate – is up to three times more common in women who smoked than in those who didn’t.”
“Chronic coughing among female smokers also can contribute to urinary incontinence issues by putting extra pressure on the bladder.”
So, bottom line….and no pun intended…Whether you are male or female, and whatever your age, incontinence can have a major impact on your quality of life. So, if you or someone you know is affected by incontinence it’s important to remember that help is available.
Ms Ferrier says the South West HHS had programs in place that could help people manage their incontinence issues or refer them to more specialised clinicians for more complex conditions.
“Just contact us and we will help you.’’
For information on continence programs available in the South West, phone Roma 4624 2719, or phone Charleville 4650 5093.
Or check out:
Laugh without Leaking: http://www.laughwithoutleaking.com.au/
Continence Foundation of Australia: https://www.continence.org.au/
Or call the National Continence Helpline on 1800 33 00 66.