Seek professional continence care help
With the right advice and treatment, most people with bladder incontinence can be cured or improved. It is important to seek professional help for bladder symptoms or incontinence and whilst you might feel a little embarrassed the best person to see initially is your healthcare professional. Your doctor should test the urine to exclude any abnormalities such as blood in the urine, and also do a physical examination. An examination of the back passage in men will diagnose an enlarged prostate, and a vaginal examination in women can check for prolapse. If there is no medical reason to see a hospital consultant, you can ask your GP to refer you for a continence assessment by a specialist nurse at your local service.
Continence assessment by a continence nurse specialist
A continence nurse specialist is an experienced nurse with additional specialist training in the assessment and management of bladder and bowel problems. Continence nurse specialists work within best practice guidance issued by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) for the assessment and management of female and male incontinence.
The first continence assessment may take up to one hour and will include:
- Taking information about your medical and surgical history, and bladder symptoms
- Review of a three day “bladder diary” that is completed before the appointment
- Testing the urine
- A vaginal (or rectal in men) examination to assess the strength of the pelvic floor muscles
- A bladder ultrasound to check that the bladder is emptying properly
The continence nurse specialist will give advice and treatment to improve or cure the bladder problem and arrange a follow up appointment. Sometimes it is necessary to refer for further investigations such as a urodynamic test. The bladder is filled with water and the urodynamic machine is able to measure the pressure in the bladder which provides an accurate assessment of the bladder function.
If your continence assessment does diagnose incontinence, see the links below for further information about treatment and continence products: