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Bladder and Bowel 2019

Don’t suffer in silence, ‘help is at hand’

iStock / Getty image Plus / Jacob Wackerhausen

Karen Irwin

Bladder and Bowel UK

Bladder and bowel problems are not uncommon, but many individuals prefer not to openly discuss what, in essence, is private to us all. That is, being in control of our bladder, or not having difficulties with our toileting habits and routines.

People are often reluctant to come forward and present to health professionals, to seek the help and advice they need. This is commonly due to embarrassment, fear, or not realising that there are solutions to treating and managing bladder symptoms.

Common problems may include increased urinary frequency and/or urgency, frequently getting up at night to pass urine (nocturia), passing large amounts of urine at night, urinary incontinence or difficulty voiding or passing urine. It is also important not to ignore other symptoms, such as blood in your urine.

Firstly, speak to your GP

We would suggest speaking to your GP or other health professional in the first instance. They will be able to suggest the best way forward, undertake initial screening and advise if further investigation of symptoms is required.  

It is important to be aware that bladder and bowel health is an important component in a person’s health and wellbeing, at any stage of life. There are an estimated 14 million men, women, young people and children of all ages, living with bladder problems in the UK.  

Bladder and bowel problems are more common than you may think

It is estimated that 61% of men in the general population experience lower urinary tract symptoms and around 34% of women are living with urinary incontinence. In addition, 900,000 children and young people suffer from bladder and bowel dysfunction. We are also aware that an estimated 6.5 million adults in the UK suffer with some form of bowel problem.

These figures relate to those individuals who are known and have presented themselves to health services.  There are, however, a great many others who simply put up with urological and continence symptoms; who self manage and suffer in silence.  It is well known that for many people, these symptoms impact hugely on their quality of life.

A specialist, community-based team for continence issues

People should be encouraged to know that much can be done to cure, treat and improve continence symptoms. Where this is not achievable, an individualised management plan can help improve the quality of life for most individuals.  The initial assessment, treatment and management for continence issues, is best undertaken by staff trained in continence care.

These services, often referred to as ‘bladder and bowel services’ or ‘continence services’, are usually based in the community, consisting of a team of specialist of nurses and other continence healthcare professionals. These professionals assess and advise on conservative treatment options, such as dietary advice, lifestyle adjustments, bladder retraining, medication advice and pelvic floor muscle exercises, to name but a few.

Those individuals experiencing more complex problems, or who have not responded to initial treatment, can be referred to specialist services, such as urology, urogynaecology, geriatrics, or specialist physiotherapy.

Where to go to find information to help

The internet provides people with lots of information on continence and urological issues, from trusted sites like the NHS, which enable patients to educate themselves with credible reliable information. Other credible sites, such as charities and organisations, dedicated to this specialist area, offer helpline advice, support and signposting to services. These services are not only there for those experiencing continence problems, but also for those caring for people with these issues.

In addition to medical intervention, sometimes people need practical solutions to manage what seems like an unmanageable problem. These may include products to enable them to remain in work, take part in sporting activities or simply to socialise and lead as normal and independent a lifestyle as possible.

There are many thousands of individual product brands available to help manage bladder and bowel problems. Organisations such as Bladder & Bowel UK or Continence Products Advisor offer unbiased information and advice on products that are available.

Their advice is written by continence healthcare professionals and formulated from evidence-based research. So, be encouraged to seek help and advice. By talking openly about your condition, help and support is available. Don’t suffer in silence.


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