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How to look after a Teenager with Incontinence

12.10.2017 | Posted in: Incontinence | Author: Samantha Hall

The International Continence Society defines urinary incontinence as “the complaint of any involuntary leakage of urine”. Teenagers with incontinence can often be reluctant to seek advice or try even address the incontinence.


A study of healthy adolescents indicated that 3 percent of 15 to 16-year-olds experienced regular daytime wetting. A longitudinal study of children with constipation showed that one-third of children, followed up beyond puberty, continued to have the condition. It is therefore apparent that there are more teenagers than you may think who will have bowel or bladder management issues. However, many teenagers will be reluctant to address the issue or look for a solution. Most teenagers believe that the condition is limited to the frail elderly and can be ashamed of telling others about their problem.


What are the possible causes of incontinence in teenagers?


Congenital Abnormality



According to Dr. Roy NG, who is the head of the division of pelvic reconstructive surgery and urogynecology at National University Hospital in Singapore, if a child suffers with urinary incontinence that continues into her teenage years, she could have a congenital abnormality.


Different categories of congenital abnormalities can include chromosome abnormalities, single-gene abnormalities, conditions during pregnancy and genetic problems.


Urinary Tract Infections (UTI) or Cystitis

If a teenager begins experiencing incontinence soon after becoming sexually active, they may have a UTI or bladder infection. When a person has a UTI or cystitis, they frequently like they have to empty their bladder; however, she will only pass a little urine at a time. With these conditions, she could also have urge incontinence causing leakage before she reaches the bathroom. Urinating is painful and a stinging or burning sensation generally accompanies it. She may also notice that her urine looks bloody or cloudy. If a UTI or cystitis is not treated, it may lead to the inability to completely empty the bladder, overflow incontinence and over-distention. Overflow incontinence refers to the leakage of urine without physical stress or an urgency warning.


A Double Ureter                                                                  

The ureter drains the urine from the kidney into the bladder. A girl who has a double ureter may have a ureter that drains into her vagina. This gives rise to the inability for her to hold her urine and is a continuous problem because urine production occurs quickly at one or two millilitres per minute. But if a child is born with a ureter that does not connect with the bladder, it can drain somewhere outside the bladder. This is called an ectopic ureter. In girls, the ectopic ureter can drain into the urethra (the tube leading out of the bladder that we use to pee out of or even the vagina). In boys, it often drains into the urethra near the prostate or into the sex organs.



If your teenager is taking medication, it may be causing incontinence as a side effect, according to the Mayo Clinic website. Sedatives and muscle relaxants can play a big role in reducing bladder control, though medications for the heart or blood pressure may also impact your teenager’s bladder control. If urinary incontinence began around the time your teenager started a new medication, it is worthwhile talking to your teenager’s doctor about switching medications.


How to help a teenager manage incontinence


When helping a teenager look for solutions, it can be important to firstly understand which type of incontinence they have. The different types of incontinence are the following:


  1. Urge incontinence  many times referred to as having an overactive bladder, this involves a sudden and very strong need to empty the bladder. The bladder squeezes, causing an individual to urinate before she reaches the bathroom


  1. Stress incontinence – this happens during particular activities, such as coughing, lifting, exercise, and laughing


  1. Overflow incontinence – this occurs when the bladder is unable to fully empty, which leads to leaking


  1. Faecal incontinence an inability to control bowel movements, resulting in involuntary soiling


Incontinence can be a delicate issue to discuss with someone. When talking to a person about incontinence, it is vital to be discreet and calm.  If you lose your temper when talking about the condition, you are bound to close all the doors to communicating with your teen. You should not imply that the condition is problematic or inconvenient, and instead start by offering methods of support.


Teenage girl with incontinence


Although surgery is an option, we recommend suggesting simple lifestyle changes before seeking more radical options such as surgery. Some lifestyle changes you can suggest include the following:


> Smoking can rapidly exacerbate bladder weakness. If your child smokes, it is worth suggesting that they cut down or stop smoking to prevent the problem from worsening


>Ask your child what they eat and drink on a regular basis. Certain foods have been proven to be a culprit for the condition. Spicy foods, citrus fruits, carbonated beverages, milk and sweeteners have been shown to worsen the symptoms of incontinence.


> Ensure they are drinking 6-8 glasses of water a day to flush the bladder. Whilst to start with they may have to go to the toilet more frequently, this will drop off as your system reaches an equilibrium.


> Suggest reducing caffeine intake from coffee, regular tea and ‘smart drinks’. Many herbal teas are caffeine free and are fine.



If the condition is extreme and lifestyle changes do not seem to work, surgery may be a reasonable option.


Surgical approaches for stress incontinence include suspension to repair the bladder neck, and bladder suspension surgery to repair the pelvic floor. Tension-free vaginal tape (TVT) surgery is often recommended for stress incontinence. In TVT surgery, a mesh tape is placed under your urethra like a sling or hammock to keep it in its normal position. The tape is inserted through tiny incisions in your abdomen and vaginal wall. Urethral sling surgery, also called mid-urethral sling surgery, is a common method of surgery treating urinary incontinence. A sling is placed around the urethra to lift it back into a normal position and to exert pressure on the urethra to aid urine retention. The sling is attached to the abdominal wall. Electrical stimulation is used to treat urinary incontinence by sending a mild electric current to nerves in the lower back or the pelvic muscles that are involved in urination. When treating urge incontinence, however, surgery as a method of treatment is quite rare. Other treatments including medications are usually first-line therapies for urge incontinence, and bladder augmentation surgery is often suggested as a last resort measure.


In order to be pro-active and ensure your teenager will stay dry throughout the day, you can shop our range of incontinence products here. Our Allanda product comparison chart can provide you with guidance in choosing the correct product.