Incontinence is no laughing matter

This year, World Continence Week is 18 to 24 June and the Continence Foundationof Australia awareness campaign Laugh Without Leaking, will be using humour to overcome the stigma of incontinence and get people talking about their bladder and bowel troubles.

5 million Australians are affected by incontinence.

Incontinence describes any accidental or involuntary loss of urine from the bladder (urinary incontinence) or bowel motion, faeces or wind from the bowel (faecal or bowel incontinence). It may cause distress as well as being a hygiene problem. However, incontinence can be managed and treated.

If you have experienced this problem, you are not alone. Incontinence is a widespread condition. It can range from ‘just a small leak’ to complete loss of bladder or bowel control. In fact, 5 million Australians have bladder or bowel control problems for a variety of reasons.

It is likely that the true number of people affected is much higher. Many people do not tell their doctor or pharmacist about their incontinence, due to embarrassment. Some people mistakenly think that incontinence is a normal part of ageing or that it cannot be treated. If you experience bladder or bowel control problems seek help, as the symptoms will not go away on their own and may worsen over time.

Urinary incontinence is quite common and often associated with pregnancy, childbirth, menopause or some chronic health conditions. It can range from a small dribble when you cough or laugh, to large flows of urine. Stress and urge incontinence are common types of urinary incontinence.

People with poor bowel control or faecal incontinence have difficulty controlling their bowels. This may mean they pass faeces or stools at the wrong time or in the wrong place. They may also pass wind when they don’t mean to or experience staining of their underwear. About 1-in-20 people experience poor bowel control. It is more common as you age, but many young people also have poor bowel control. People with poor bowel controlalso often have poor bladder control.

Treatment depends on the type of incontinence. It is therefore important that a continence assessment is conducted by a professional so an appropriate management plan can be developed. Lifestyle changes may significantly help some types of incontinence and these include:

  • Drink about 6–8 cups of fluid each day (1.5–2 litres of water) spread evenly throughout the day, unless otherwise advised by your doctor. To avoid disruptions to your sleep, drink a little less in the evenings.
  • Reduce the number of drinks containing caffeine (e.g. tea, coffee, hot chocolate and cola) as this can increase urge incontinence.
  • Avoid constipation by maintaining a healthy balanced diet that contains plenty of fruit, vegetables and fibre.
  • Lose some weight if required, as a modest amount of weight loss can improve urinary incontinence.
  • Aim for 30 minutes of exercise most days.
  • Do pelvic floor exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles.
  • Go to the toilet only when you need to, rather than ‘just in case’.
  • Go to the doctor if you think you have a urinary tract infection.

The Continence Foundation of Australia (CFA) provides resources and information for the public, including the National Continence Helpline (Ph. 1800 33 00 66). This Helpline is a free service staffed by continence nurse advisors who can provide information, education and advice to people with incontinence or those caring for someone with incontinence.

At Fresh Therapeutics we have CFA brochures and the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia’s Self Care Fact Cards Bladder and Urine control, Pelvic floor exercises, Fibre and bowel health, and Urinary tract infection. We also provide information about the Commonwealth Government’s Continence Aids Payment Scheme that helps cover some of the cost of products that help people manage incontinence.

 

We recommend and stock the Molimed® range of continence products. We also stock aids to assist with pelvic floor exercises such as the Epi-No® Childbirth and Pelvic Floor Trainer, the KGoal® Pelvic Floor Trainer and the Elise® Pelvic Floor Exerciser.

Healthy Heart Healthy Life

Healthy Heart Healthy Life
Healthy Heart Healthy Life

The importance of doing something healthy for your heart is highlighted by the fact that 90% of adult Australians have at least one risk factor for heart disease. Risk factors include a family history of heart disease, and the risk also increases as you age. Gender is important because being male is also a risk factor.

As a nation, we tend to take our hearts for granted but the sobering facts are that cardiovascular disease is the cause of 34% of deaths in Australia, followed by all cancers on 29%.

There are four simple steps that we can undertake to make some inroads into improving the health of our hearts.

The first step is to keep moving at any age and at any level of fitness. Exercise has many benefits beyond fitness and flexibility. Exercise stimulates the body’s immune system, reduces the blood’s ability to clot easily, improves brain function and lowers blood pressure.

Exercise can even prevent some forms of cancer. Research in older patients with age-related muscle wasting (also called sarcopenia) has shown that strength training was found to prevent disability, slow down dementia and reduce the risk of accidental falls. In later life independence and good health are closely related to physical fitness.

The second step is to look at what we eat and to ensure we eat wisely. Good nutrition extends beyond controlling our intake of cholesterol, calories and chocolate. There is also great benefit in understanding the important effects of trans fats (bad for you), and polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats (good for you). Or how the body metabolises different carbohydrates (sugars) and the impact this has on weight, diabetes and body fat deposits.

Research consistently shows that the right balance between food intake and exercise is vital for optimum weight, fitness and health.

The third step suggested is to keep track of our health measurements. This includes cholesterol levels, blood pressure, heart rate and rhythm, weight, sugar levels, waist circumference and exercise capacity. A close relationship between your family doctor, pharmacist and consumer will optimise the way good health is measured and monitored.

Finally, the fourth step is our mental approach and staying optimistic. Studies show our state of mind can protect, as well as damage, heart health. Important risk factors that may lead to heart disease include stress, anger and depression and these can be as damaging as high cholesterol levels in causing heart disease. Conversely, a positive state of mind, a supportive community, and personal happiness may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular problems.

At Fresh Therapeutics we have  a range of products, medicines, services and advice to support heart health. These include:

  • prescription medicine and medicine advice
  • health advice such as managing your weight
  • blood pressure monitoring
  • Heart rhythm and rate monitoring
  • services to help you lose weight and quit smoking.

In addition, at Fresh Therapeutics we have Pharmaceutical Society Self Care Fact Cards on topics such as High blood pressure as well as lifestyle topics such as Weight Management, Cholesterol and Fat, Staying a non-smoker that provide information about the topic as well as self help organisations that may be helpful.