How to Look After a Teenager with Incontinence
How to Look After a Teenager with IncontinenceAmidst the challenges that teenage girls already face, it's important to recognize that incontinence is a relatively common issue among them. Incontinence refers to the uncontrollable leakage of urine, whether it's a constant trickle throughout the day or only during the night. The causes of teenage incontinence can vary, as can the potential solutions.
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What is the prevalence of incontinence among young adults?
Urinary incontinence is observed in about 3 percent of 15 to 16-year-old teenagers, impacting both girls and boys, according to data from Incontinence United Kingdom. Another study referenced by cincinnatichildrens.org revealed that around 3 to 4 percent of children aged 4 to 12 experience episodes of daytime leakage. It's worth noting that urinary incontinence is slightly more prevalent among teenage girls than teenage boys.
Indications of teenage incontinence encompass:
- Increased frequency of urination compared to the usual pattern. This heightened urge to urinate might interfere with concentration in class or even participation in sports activities.
- The necessity to urinate before the bladder reaches its typical fullness.
- Regular instances of accidents or involuntary urine leakage while rushing to the restroom – medically termed as urge incontinence (further explanation below).
Frequent Causes of Incontinence in Adolescents and Young Adults
The range of factors contributing to teenage incontinence is broad. Some prevalent reasons encompass:
- Bladder Infection:This is a treatable condition that can lead to incontinence and is usually resolved with medication.
- Hormonal Fluctuations: Hormonal changes during adolescence and young adulthood can influence bladder control.
- Neurological Disorders:Underlying conditions affecting nerves, such as diabetes or multiple sclerosis, can result in nerve damage that triggers incontinence.
- Sports-Related Impact:High-impact sports like gymnastics or track and field can lead to injuries causing incontinence, particularly in girls. Repeated forceful impact can progressively damage pelvic floor muscles.
- Genetic Predisposition:In some cases, teenage incontinence might have a hereditary component.
- Pelvic Floor Muscles:Weakened pelvic floor muscles can contribute to incontinence issues.
- Obesity:Excess weight can exert additional pressure on the bladder, increasing the risk of incontinence.
- Other Risk Factors:Factors such as childhood nocturnal enuresis, cystic fibrosis, and chronic constipation can also heighten the risk of developing incontinence during teenage years.
Varieties of Incontinence in Adolescents
Teenage incontinence encompasses several distinct types, including daytime leakage, bedwetting, and urge incontinence.
Daytime wetting refers to any instance of urinary leakage occurring during the waking hours. The primary culprits are often an overactive bladder or pelvic floor issues. Daytime wetting is more prevalent among girls, occurring twice as frequently as in boys.
While bedwetting is quite common during childhood, it can persist into the teenage years. Typically, the brain is expected to regulate nighttime bladder activity, but bedwetting may arise due to a delay in this developmental process. Although usually not medically linked, consulting a doctor is advisable for accurate assessment.
Urge incontinence entails a sudden and intense urge to urinate, often leading to accidents or involuntary urine release. Normally, the bladder reaches about half of its capacity (around 300ml) before the sensation to urinate is felt. This provides ample time to reach a restroom, as there's still 300ml of space left to fill. Nevertheless, individuals with urge incontinence experience a powerful urge to urinate and sometimes an inability to control it, even before the bladder is truly full.
Supporting Your Teenager Dealing with Incontinence
A research endeavor undertaken by the University of Bristol and subsequently published in the British Journal of Health Psychology examined the social and psychological repercussions that teenage incontinence can impose on adolescents. Often, reluctance to discuss the matter stems from the fear of embarrassment. This predicament can also introduce additional stress that affects their academic pursuits. Hence, if your teenager opens up about this concern, displaying understanding, offering support, and aiding in finding viable solutions become paramount.
Thankfully, there are ways you can assist your teenager in addressing teenage incontinence. Consider implementing the following strategies:
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Pelvic Floor Therapy
If your healthcare provider suspects a weak pelvic floor is contributing to the issue, pelvic floor therapy could be beneficial in assisting your teen to achieve better bladder control. This specialized therapy involves exercises that target and strengthen the muscles responsible for bladder control. Pediatric pelvic floor therapy is tailored for individuals aged four to seventeen.
Establish a Routine
Maintaining a consistent bathroom schedule, such as visiting the restroom at regular intervals, like once every two hours, might prove helpful.
Monitor Food Choices
Certain foods and beverages can potentially irritate the bladder and increase the likelihood of nocturnal accidents. Examples include citrus fruits, acidic fruits, caffeine, and carbonated drinks.
When to Consult a Professional
Engaging with a healthcare professional could be the pivotal step towards finding effective solutions and uncovering the underlying causes of teenage incontinence. Here are indications that it's time to seek guidance from your doctor:
- Persistent Daytime Accidents: Experiencing accidents during the day for a period of 2 months or more.
- Painful Urination: If there's pain or discomfort during urination.
- Bedwetting Frequency: Frequent incidents of bedwetting.
- Altered Urination Patterns: When there are deviations such as not urinating enough or excessively frequent urination. (For context, the average person urinates around 6 to 7 times within 24 hours.)
- Intense Urges: An overpowering urge to urinate, often with insufficient warning to reach the bathroom in time.
- Recurring UTIs: Frequent urinary tract infections.
- Limited Urine Output: If only a small amount of urine is expelled despite feeling the urge to urinate.