What is Functional Incontinence?

Functional Urinary Incontinence (UI) refers to the involuntary passage of urine, either partially or completely, due to one’s inability to make it to a bathroom in time.

A person suffering from Functional UI is generally conscious of the need to relieve their bladder, but because of certain physical or mental impairments cannot do so in an appropriate venue. Due to various impairments associated with aging, 50% of the elderly population have been found to be affected by some form of incontinence. Functional incontinence unsurprisingly makes up a large percentage of seniors who experience UI. It could even result in a need for institutionalization in order to have around the clock assistance.

The situation is complicated further if the person is already suffering with Stress incontinence, OAB or Overflow incontinence. This is referred to as Mixed incontinence, or exhibiting more than one type of incontinence.

Functional Urinary Incontinence Causes

As mentioned above, the causes are either be a physical or mental impairment that impedes a person’s ability to properly get to and use a bathroom facility in time.

Examples are as follows:

Physical Impairments

  • Arthritis
  • Chronic pain
  • Poor eyesight
  • Wheelchair-related lack of mobility
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Generally weakened motor skills

Mental Impairments

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Dementia or confusion
  • Severe depression or anxiety

Other causes may include side effects from certain medications or excessive consumption of alcohol. Obviously, functional urinary incontinence also pertains to a situation where someone is in a place without bathroom facilities and cannot hold their bladder, but these are usually isolated incidents and don’t have roots in a medical condition.

Functional Urinary Incontinence Symptoms

Functional UI occurs when someone leaks urine accidentally because they are unable to make it to a bathroom in time. The amount of urine can vary substantially, from a small leak to completely emptying the bladder. This depends on how soon or how late they reach a toilet or even a bedpan in which to relieve themselves. This degree of severity has much to do with the specific impairment or impairments causing the functional incontinence.

Functional Urinary Incontinence Treatments

The clearest approach to treating functional incontinence is first of all properly diagnosing and treating the condition that is causing it. Following that, there are steps that can be taken to try and limit urinary accidents when attempting to make it to the bathroom. For example, improving accessibility to one’s bathroom and always being aware of restroom locations when out in public can make the trip to the toilet much more efficient.

Additionally, there are exercises that may help with functional incontinence that are useful for other types of urinary incontinence. These may include bladder retraining programs or pelvic floor exercises. For those where functional incontinence has become a fact of life there is an astonishing array of incontinence products available to ease symptoms, from incontinence pads and undergarments to bedpans and portable urinals.

You may want to consult a medical professional regarding your treatment options. You can request an appointment at the Mayo Clinic or speak to your family doctor or physician.

References – MedlinePlus | Mayo Clinic | WebMD

Real Talk from Real Sufferers

When my wife first lost her mobility due to suffering a broken hip in August of 2015, issues with incontinence were the last thing on my mind. But as her overall health improved, her lack of ability to make it in a timely manner to the appropriate facilities became a constant nuisance in our lives. It’s especially troublesome at night. Neither one of us has gotten a full nights sleep in months.

The condition has also had a very unfortunate side-effect that I wasn’t expecting – the mental state of the incontinent. Losing the ability to relieve yourself without assistance can be devastating to ones self-esteem and vigor. It’s sites like Incontinence Guide that ease our minds when we see that we aren’t alone.

Best regards to those in the same boat as us and a word of advice – find other’s experiencing similar issues and share your symptoms, solutions and sorrows. If nothing else, it will help soothe your heart.

– Edward M., Indianapolis, IN