Breaking the Taboo: Sufferers of incontinence are not alone | Action Medical Research

Breaking the Taboo: Sufferers of incontinence are not alone

10 September 2001
For some people, sharing a joke can be no laughing matter. Incontinence is a distressing condition in which even a quick giggle can cause an embarrassing incident. It affects one in ten of us, there’s no quick fix solution, and contrary to popular opinion it doesn’t just affect the elderly. Action Research, a leading medical research charity, is calling on the public to recognise that incontinence does exist. Under the banner Breaking the Taboo it says incontinence deserves appropriate awareness, research, funding, and even press coverage. To coincide with the National Continence Awareness Week (beginning September 17), the charity has unveiled details about a newly-awarded research study, worth more than £106,000, which will look specifically at ways to help overcome the condition. It is also offering a free fact-sheet on bladder control, which gives members of the public further details on current research and tips on how to help manage the condition, such as pelvic floor exercises. John Grounds, director of Campaigns and Communications at Action Research, says: ‘Incontinence not only causes discomfort, it can lead to significant depression, and many people suffer in silence. Thanks to medical research great progress has been made. But there are many milestones still to be reached.’ Among 15-64 year-olds about 5% of males suffer from incontinence, and in females as many as 25%. More than a third of women aged over 60 admit to suffering some form of problem. Researcher Dr Mark Hollywood, of the Smooth Muscle Group at Queen's University of Belfast, says: ‘Although a physical problem, incontinence often comes with huge emotional baggage. Following successful treatment many patients manage to lead normal lives, but others often feel trapped in their own home.’ ‘Young mothers in particular tend to try and adjust their lifestyle accordingly, and because of the associated embarrassment they may no longer have a social life. They may also stop doing things like taking their children to the park or the local swimming pool, which is a great shame.’ Professor Jacqueline Oldham, who is leading an incontinence study at the Centre for Rehabilitation Science at the University of Manchester adds: ‘In the UK at least 3 million adults cannot control their bladders properly. This is twice as many as diagnosed with diabetes - an illness which has its own funding stream. Yet we are struggling for funding devoted to incontinence. ‘Without funding bodies such as Action Research this important area would be severely neglected.’ Action Research is currently funding projects at: *Brunel University, Middlesex, *University of Oxford *Freeman Hospital, Newcastle *The Institute of Child Health, London *Manchester University *Queen’s University Belfast There is also a study on bowel incontinence at St Mark’s in Harrow. For a copy of the free fact-sheet entitled A Closer Look At Bladder Control please write to Action Research, Vincent House, North Parade, Horsham, West Sussex, RH12 2DP or email: For further media information and interviews in the run-up to and during the Awareness Week, please contact Nicole Duckworth in the Action Research press office on 01403 327403 Fax: 01403 210541, or email ISDN facilities are available.
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