Continence promotion

Here you will find information and advice on how to cope with urinary incontinence.

Types of incontinence
What help is available
Managing incontinence
HSE Continence Advisory Service

Urinary incontinence is loss of control of your bladder. It can affect anyone, regardless of age. It is a condition which ranges from mild to uncontrollable and embarrassing wetting. Incontinence can often be caused by an illness, such as a urinary tract infection, and often when the infection gets better the incontinence improves.  


Types of incontinence

Stress incontinence – happens when you wet yourself during exercise, coughing, sneezing, laughing or other movements that put pressure on the bladder. It is the most common type of incontinence and usually affects women, however, men can also develop stress incontinence after a prostate operation.

Urgency/urge incontinence– occurs when you cannot hold on long enough to reach a toilet. This may be caused by an over-active bladder, infection, medication or poor mobility. In men, it may be sign of an enlarged prostate.

Overflow incontinence – happens when the bladder does not empty completely.  Urine builds up and then may overflow, often as frequent dribbling. This type of incontinence is more common in men and may be due to an enlarged prostate gland, but constipation may also be a cause.

Reflex incontinence – is where the bladder empties when it is full and the person is usually unaware of this. The cause is a break in the signals between the brain and bladder, which may be caused by a stroke or spinal injury.

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What help is available

Incontinence is a common condition that affects one in four women and one in ten men. It can be improved and is often cured completely with the help of professional advice and treatment.

  • The family doctor - will investigate the possible cause of incontinence and can recommend necessary treatment or further advice 
  • A continence adviser – is a specialist who can assess the condition. He/she will help and advise you on treatment and management of incontinence
  • The public health nurse– can assess the condition and may refer you to the continence advisor (if there is one in the local area). The public health nurse will supply certain types of aids to help with incontinence
  • The physiotherapist – can work out an exercise and retraining programme to suit your needs. These programmes can help to strengthen and improve your bladder control.

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Managing incontinence

Incontinence can be managed in many different ways, depending on your needs:

  • Medication may sometimes be suggested
  • Exercise programmes, which can help make the pelvic floor muscles stronger, giving you greater control so that urine can be held for longer
  • Bladder retraining programmes
  • Surgery to treat the condition which contributes to incontinence – such as an enlarged prostate gland or prolapsed womb.

Daily lifestyle:

  • Drink plenty of fluids -  six to eight glasses of water every day
  • Drink water, milk or fruit juices instead of tea, coffee and fizzy drinks as these may irritate your bladder
  • Eat plenty of fibre to avoid constipation
  • Stay as active and mobile as possible.

Tips for managing incontinence

  • Good personal hygiene decreases the risk of skin problems and unpleasant odours
  • Keep a commode or urine bottle beside your bed at night
  • Remember to use the toilet on a regular basis
  • Wear clothes that are easy to undo or remove
  • Ensure the toilet is easy to get to
  • When necessary, wear appropriate absorbent underwear.

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HSE Continence Advisory Service

The HSE hold regular Continence Advisory Clinics in your area.  You can make an appointment by contacting your local Continence Advisor or Public Health Nurse, your Local Health Office can give you contact details if you need them or you can visit your local doctor for an assessment.


Other useful articles or links:

Click here to contact HSE Local Health Offices

Click here to contact HSE Health Centres

HSE National Information Line
Monday to Saturday 8am-8pm
Call Save: 1850 24 1850

Senior helpline
LoCall: 1850 440 444
Seven days a week, 10am-1pm and 7-10pm

Active Retirement Ireland
Shamrock Chambers, 1-2 Eustace Street, Dublin 2
Tel: 01-6792142

Active Retirement Ireland is the largest national network of local and community based voluntary groups involving older people in Ireland. We believe that getting older is not a barrier to continuing to enjoy life, maintaining dignity and independence, making new friendships, acquiring new skills, sharing experiences and contributing to the community. Joining your local active retirement association is one of the best ways of achieving these aims.

Citizen’s Information Centres
LoCall: 1890 777 121
Free and confidential service

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