When a stroke occurs, it attacks the brain (human control centre), changing lives in an instant. Your brain is fed by blood carrying oxygen and nutrients through blood vessels called arteries. A stroke happens when blood cannot get to the brain, because of a blocked or burst artery. As a result, your brain cells die due to a lack of oxygen. The brain is divided into areas which control different things. The impact of the stroke depends on the area of the brain it damages. Damage to an area of the brain can impact of how you think, behave, use words, swallow, see, feel, touch and move your body. Stroke affects everyone differently.
Men are at higher risk of stroke and as we get older the risk increases. In saying that, strokes are preventable for many. Some of the causes within our control include high blood pressure, being overweight, smoking, high cholesterol, a high intake of alcohol and diabetes.
Incontinence after a stroke is very common. Incontinence is poor control of the bladder or bowel. After a stroke, physical changes as well as communication and visual changes, can lead to incontinence. Changes to your thinking, memory and judgement can also lead to incontinence. Incontinence can also be caused by changes to your diet, along with some medications.
Incontinence can be treated, managed and cured but you will require a full assessment by a health professional before implementing any changes to your treatment plan or lifestyle. Your healthcare team will ask you what your bladder and bowel control was prior to your stroke, they will look at how your stroke has affected you and consider your diet, medications and exercise routine.
Some tests that can be performed to assess your continence include:
- Bladder scan (ultrasound) to show well your bladder is emptying and if it is painless.
- Keeping a bladder/bowel diary to document of how much you eat and drink and how much/often you pass urine and open your bowels
- Urine test to check for any infections
- Rectal examination for the Dr to feel for any abnormalities
After your assessment, your health care team will work with you to develop a plan to manage your incontinence. Some changes that can be implemented include discussing diet with a dietician who can help obtain the right balance of fibre and fluid in your diet. Drinking up to 8-10 cups of water each day. This can help stop bladder irritation and make it easier to pass faeces. Try to reduce fluids that increase to need to go to the toilet more often including caffeine and fizzy drinks. Ensuring your toilet is easily accessible for quick and safe use and wearing clothing that can be undone and/or removed quickly. Regular exercise within your limits and treatment plan can also help regain muscle strength and will help with incontinence.
There are products that can be used at home to help make toileting safer and easier after a stoke including raised toilet seats, rails on the walls, commode chairs and urinal bottles. There are a range of products that you can purchase to help keep you dry and comfortable including pads, liners, pants and absorbent underclothing. Mattress and chair protectors can also help.
At Confidence Club, we specialise in moderate to heavy incontinence needs products. All our incontinence products have been carefully chosen to provide maximum comfort, ease of use, and confidence to anyone who is facing incontinence. Treatment of incontinence will vary from person to person but some simple things like those mentioned above will assist in the prevention of ongoing incontinence and possibly even cure or avoid incontinence in the future. Always discuss your situation and/or concerns with a healthcare professional before implementing any significant changes to your lifestyle.