The prevalence of double incontinence isn’t known. Researchers suspect it’s under-reported due to the embarrassment and stigma associated with the condition. One paper cites seven reports with prevalence rates varying from 8.4% to 29%.
And if people are reluctant to report the issue, it’s likely they’re also unwilling to seek help. This attitude is unfortunate as in many instances, the condition may be improved with treatment. So, if you or someone you’re caring for does suffer from the involuntary loss of urine and faeces, please make an appointment with your doctor to see what can be done.
The causes of Double Incontinence are numerous. Like all types of incontinence, the lack of control is a symptom of an underlying issue, which is why it’s important to consult with a doctor to diagnose the cause. This information then determines thecourse of treatment to improve the cause, and in turn, the incontinence.
Bowel or faecal incontinence describes the involuntary loss of liquid or solid faecal matter or poor bowel control. Like urinary incontinence, the causes vary, but include:
- A weak pelvic floor muscle. If the muscles that control the sphincters are weak, it can compromise the ability to ‘hold’ urine and faeces. Weakness can be exacerbated by constipation and straining, diarrhoea, heavy lifting, pregnancy and childbirth, being overweight, the cough caused by smoking, ageing, poor bowel habits or bowel surgery
- Certain medications and treatments for other conditions, such as radiation
- Bowel diseases like Coeliac and Crohn's can also adversely affect control
- Neurological disorders like dementia, stroke, Alzheimer’s or an acquired brain injury, as well as nerve disorders like MS and Parkinson’s disease, can interfere with messages between the bowel and brain, making it difficult to know when you need to void
- Mobility issues due to a disability, arthritis or being age-frail
Treatment for double incontinence is dependent on the ability to address the underlying cause, which is why the best first step is to consult with your doctor, but might include:
- Lifestyle changes. This is the most conservative approach, looking at weight, smoking, exercise, stress and diet. You can read about food and drink to avoid in this article
- Exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor muscle. TENA’s Exercise Zone has instructional videos on how to exercise your pelvic floor for improved strength and control. If you feel you need more support, talk to your doctor about a referral to a continence physiotherapist who can tailor a program specifically for you.
- Medicine review. If your issues are caused by your medication for another condition, the solution may be as simple as a review and an adjustment
Unfortunately, in some cases treatment won’t be an option, so vigilant management will be required.
All TENA products are designed to absorb and lock-in urine quickly, and although no product can absorb faeces, the TENA range of Pants and Specialist Products will help contain losses.
When there is faecal leakage, the best course of action is to change the product as soon as practicable.
Leaving waste products in contact with the skin for extended periods of time will cause irritation, rashes and even open sores. This is especially true of the elderly, who have delicate and thin skin. Although TENA products lock urine away and keep the skin dry, it’s not possible to do the same with faecal matter which is why it’s important to change as soon as possible. You can read more about Skin Care and Incontinence here.
The odour of bowel leakage is strong and, again, although all TENA product have odour control this only applies to urine. If it’s you or the person you care for who’s had a bowel leak, getting to the bathroom for a wash and change is the most discreet way to manage the issue.
If you’re out and about, make sure you have wipes, lotion, disposal bags and extra products with you.
TENA has a useful product called TENA Duo Protection Layer. This product is shaped to fit inside and line TENA Pants or TENA Flex and can be changed should a bowel motion occur, without having to discard the outer product. This is a more cost-effective solution, especially if bowel leakage is frequent.
To request a FREE sample of TENA Duo Protection Layer, or any other products in the range, head to the website
Asaleo Care makes no warranties or representations regarding the completeness or accuracy of the information. This information should be used only as a guide and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional, medical or other health professional advice.