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How to improve Australia’s budget bottom line: Let’s beat incontinence

12 March, 2013

Today I attempted my first video blog. I now have new respect for reporters, for actors and for Obama. Talking ad-lib to a camera without an autocue and to get it right the first…fifth……seventeenth time – is not an easy thing to do. So I thought I would write a blog on the Overactive Bladder to back up the video on Youtube.

Bat incontinence

Incontinence is a big deal in Australia. I have written previously of the prevalence (in 2011 4.8million Australians over the age of 15 suffer urinary and faecal incontinence 1) and cost ($42 billion per year 1) to Australia. The amazing thing is that it is very treatable…and it’s NOT rocket science.

Here are three simple ways I believe we can decrease the cost and decrease the prevalence and therefore the burden to Australia.

1. DISPEL THE MYTHS

Our mothers can be responsible for many myths and beliefs surrounding the bladder which are wrong!

Belief 1: Just in Case voids: Always go before you leave the house, when you arrive at the doctor’s surgery, before the movies. Wrong! Teach your adult bladder to hold to 350-500 mls. Go with a bouncy full bladder not that first urethral sensation. Check out what yours is by doing a simple bladder diary. Measure your wees out and drinks in, recording the time and types of fluids you drink.

Belief 2: You’ll get kidney stones if you hold onto urine. Wrong! The bladder is designed to store urine and if you drink 2 litres of fluid you should be able to hold 350-500 mls of urine before needing to go. This means you should be able to go roughly 3-4 hours between wees depending on what you drink(watch that caffeine.

Belief 3: Never sit on a public toilet, always hover or perch or you’ll catch germs. Wrong! You are more likely to get a urinary tract infection from not emptying your bladder properly when you hover than from the toilet seat. Always sit with good posture (see below) and relax your tummy and pelvic floor prior to voiding.

© Sue Croft Physiotherapist 2012

© Sue Croft Physiotherapist 2012

2. TEACH BLADDER RETRAINING UTILISING URGE CONTROL STRATEGIES

 Bladder retraining is the technique used to try to increase the capacity and decrease the sensitivity of the bladder. By teaching your bladder how to store more urine without leaking or giving uncomfortable spasms you will have more time between voids (wees) and more freedom to go out without constantly seeking the nearest toilet. Bladder retraining is safe, inexpensive and side-effect free!

Urge control strategies assist with this bladder retraining: –

  • Perineal or clitoral pressure hand pressure over the perineum, clitoris or urethra.
    • Sitting on the edge of a chair or table.
    • Sitting on a rolled up towel when in the car on a long trip.
    • Sitting on the edge of bed prior to getting out of bed in the morning.
  • Crossing your thighs in standing or sitting.
  • Buttock tightening and toe curling.
  • A gentle pelvic floor muscle hold or low tummy draw-in.

3. BREAK THE ADDICTION TO CAFFEINE

Caffeine is addictive, it irritates the bladder and in large quantities is a diuretic. It increases anxiety, increases heart palpitations and affects your sleep. Yes it tastes nice and can give you a kick-start in the morning but really if you ask for a (naturally) decaffeinated coffee/tea any bladder symptoms you have plus your poor sleep, anxiety and heart flutters should improve. Go on give it a go! But come down slowly or you may get a withdrawal headache.

1. Deloitte Access Economics report 2011

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4 Comments
  1. Informative post – We at PhysioSupplies Australia stock a wide range of incontinence products for everyone.

  2. Elizabeth Kirby permalink

    I am impressed with your forthright statement ‘Lets beat incontinence improve your bottom line’- it provides me with a personal challenge and dilemma- is this in reality achievable for everyone dealing /living with incontinence matters?

    On reflection my head says yes my heart says maybe to a degree. I find some comfort in reading your Blogs Sue.In your comments-mixture of good sound information and interesting articles /stories – all have a ring of truth in them living in the real world dealing with incontinence.

    Now urinary incontinence resonates strong feelings within me as it is something I have lived with for decades -both UUI (urge incont)and SI (stress incontin) symptoms always resulting in urinary incontinence to manage..
    Is it possible to improve the bottom line if we still remain persistently incontinent? When I read a comment in one of your recent blogs a woman leaking urine when standing upright, I know this happens to me and has become increasingly worse over the years as I age in regards to urinary loss.The night challenges any movement in bed or rising up to go to the toilet leaves a trail of urine drops -for over a decade I found it necessary to use pads for protection 24 /7.

    Can you explain is the leakage of urine because of the urge or stress symptoms or an mixture. It is similar to a leaking tap -like the video indicates on the Continence Foundation website, I noticed too the theme for this year ‘improve your bottom line’. I would like to decrease my daily episodes of incontinence.
    My thoughts over the years is that my sphincter muscle is probably not functioning properly and ineffective. Can this be successfully treated -how do you get a diagnosis.
    Does that make any sense in the physio world of learning? What can be done to achieve a continent status.Is it a realistic goal. Could a bladder scan reveal an incompetent sphincter muscle?
    I am seemingly healthy woman no other health conditions slightly over weight by 5kgs in my mid fifties and post menopausal..And as previously indicated many years of incontinence as well as I experienced problematic persistent childhood bed wetting. Why does being over weight make urinary incontinence worse?
    Lets get behind Continence Foundation this year’s theme improve your bottom line Seems somewhat a real struggle -very daunting however not impossible as they say with some effort.
    As an expert in physio Sue I would be be interested in your thoughts- sorry to ask on your blog however you do have a gift to explain how things work pelvic floor wise. I desire to be better informed, proactive with coping with my incontinence conditions. thank you for reply concerned consumer.

    • Hi Concerned Consumer
      Well that comprehensive comment/question deserves a comprehensive answer and so I thought I would write a full blog answering your concerns. But it may take a little while as there are a few other blogs waiting in a queue 🙂 but I will def try to answer your questions. Thank you for your interest and support of my blog
      Regards sue

  3. The effect that urinary incontinence has on daily life can differ greatly, depending on the aetiology and severity of the condition and, equally, individual personality and coping strategies. The main impact urinary incontinence has on women’s lives, in terms of social and recreational withdrawal, stems from the fear and anxiety related to becoming incontinent in public and the possibility that others may find out, rather than distress related to the leakage of urine itself.3The psychological impact of this condition must neither be underestimated nor ignored.

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