Incontinence is an embarrassing – but not uncommon – medical condition. The NHS estimates that between three and six million people in the UK have some degree of urinary incontinence.

Still, embarrassment and lack of knowledge regarding coverage and treatment options prevent people from seeing a doctor. According to the NHS, 45% of people with incontinence wait at least five years to get treatment.

Incontinence can be managed, and in some cases, care products are covered by the NHS.

Where to Get Help

Urinary incontinence can be diagnosed and treatment can be provided via your GP, a continence clinic or a specialist.

Get Help from Your General Physician

Your GP can perform an assessment to determine whether you have incontinence and the type of incontinence you have. In addition to a diagnosis, your doctor can also provide you with prescribed medication for the condition, provide you with advice on how to manage your symptoms, and educate you on exercises and training to improve the quality of your life.

A trip to your GP is the first step you should take, but if medication and lifestyle changes do not solve the problem, your doctor can refer you to a specialist.

Visit a Continence Clinic

Continence clinics can be found in the community, or they may be attached to a hospital. Clinics offer the advantage of being able to work with a team of specialists who know and understand incontinence.

No referral is needed to visit a continence clinic. Simply phone them directly and make an appointment.

Initial visits typically include an assessment and education on treatment options. Other experts on staff will provide help in other areas, including training on how to perform pelvic floor exercises.

Clinics may also offer incontinence supplies, including vaginal cones, bed pads and pull-ups.

Specialists

When lifestyle changes and medications do not provide results, your doctor can refer you to a specialist. You may be referred to a urogynecologist or a hospital urologist for testing. Only about 10% of clinic patients are referred for surgery.

Surgery is often the last option sought when all other avenues have been exhausted.

NHS Coverage for Incontinence Products

Incontinence products, including devices and pads, may be covered by the NHS. To qualify, patients must be assessed and start a treatment plan; and meet the criteria set by the CCG (Clinical Commissioning Group).

Assessments must be performed by a healthcare professional. The evaluation will help determine the cause of your incontinence and whether you need incontinence products.

In some cases, this condition can be resolved through pelvic floor muscle training, medication, bladder training or surgery.

If it is determined after an assessment that you need incontinence products, a healthcare professional will explain which products are available through the NHS. Your local CCG may also have requirements that need to be met. For example, certain products may only be available to people who long-term or severe incontinence, or you may be limited in the number of products you can use daily.

Living with incontinence is possible. Preparation is key to living a normal, healthy life with incontinence. A few tips can help alleviate a lot of the symptoms and concerns associated with incontinence. Ask RADAR for a key that allows you to enter into disabled bathrooms through the National Key Scheme.

Clothes, wet wipes, plastic bags, and pads can be brought with you on vacation or long trips. Portable washing lines and pegs can provide an easy outlet for washing clothes if an accident does occur.

If flying, book a seat ahead of time and near the bathroom. The deodorizing spray is also a must and will neutralize the odors rather than just masking them for a short period of time.

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