A stroke occurs when a portion of the brain loses it's blood supply. Many doctors will also refer to a stroke as a cerebrovascular accident or CVA.
After a stroke, physical changes as well as speech and visual changes can lead to incontinence. Stroke can affect the way you think, how you remember things, as well as your judgment which often leads to incontinence. Sometimes the medicine prescribed due to stroke can also lead to incontinence.
It's extremely common to have continence issues following a stroke. About 15% of stroke survivors will experience incontinence up to a year following a stroke.
If you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes or smoke your are at a higher risk of stroke.
Types of stroke include the following:
- Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) also known as a mini stroke. This is when the stroke symptoms resolve within minutes or hours. The symptoms can last as long as 24 hours and are a major warning sign that a stroke a may be coming soon.
- Ischemic stroke - this is where only part of the brain loses blood flow.
- Hemorrhagic stroke - this is when bleeding occurs within the brain itself.
Symptoms of stroke include:
- Weakness of one arm. - Face drooping - When you smile only one cheek might rise. - Slurred speech or difficultly speaking.
From the onset of symptoms you have a small window of time to try to restore blood supply to the affected part of the brain. The window of time is somewhere between 3 to 4 hours. Call 911 immediately!
Your doctor will ask you how you maintained healthy bladder and bowel control prior to your stroke. They will then access how the stroke has affected you. The doctor will consider things like the medicine you take, how often you exercise as well as your diet.
Some tests may be needed to make a proper diagnosis. Tests can include, urine tests, bladder scan, rectal exam and a diary of bladder and bowel movements. These tests will help your doctor come up with a plan to manage incontinence better.
Remember, you can help prevent stroke by quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy diet, exercising regularly, keeping a healthy weight and controlling blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
Incontinence, a word often whispered as opposed to shouted, does not discriminate. It affects both young and old, and men and women across the United States and around the world. The effects of this condition often lead sufferers to lead an extremely conservative life in order to protect their dignity. In fact, according to the National Association For Continence (NAFC), “...studies have shown that up to 20% of women have reported quitting their physical activities due to incontinence.” Many believe that living an active life is simply not possible.