Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Reducing the Stigma of Incontinence

Recently, a Forbes.com article was pushed to me through an RSS feed, entitled Panel Urges End to Incontinence Stigma. It was surprising on multiple fronts:
  1. This was in Forbes magazine, a reputable news source.
  2. I don't see what this has to do with business or finance, which is what Forbes is known for.
  3. This panel was a government sponsored panel, by the National Institutes of Health.
  4. I was even surprised to learn so much about incontinence.
Did you know that there are two types of incontinence, each with two subtypes?

Urinary incontinence is the more common type; previous estimates have put the number of people with this condition at around 13 million. Actually, more than 20 million women and 6 million men have experienced urinary incontinence at some point, the NIH panel concluded.

The two most prevalent subtype are stress incontinence and urge incontinence.

Stress incontinence is leakage caused by physical pressure to the abdomen, such as coughing, sneezing, laughing, jogging or lifting a heavy object. Urge incontinence is a sudden, uncontrollable urge to urinate, sometimes called overactive bladder.

Fecal incontinence is harder to measure, even more stigmatized and thus hardly ever studied. The best estimates suggest it affects up to 5 percent of the general population and up to 39 percent of nursing home residents.

A better factoid from the article is that "one in four US adults will experience some kind of incontinence". I think that means we should all be investing in Clorox or other detergent manufacturers.

But more surprisingly, the panel recommends, ""We as a society need to get over our discomfort with this subject..." Tax dollars at work suggesting that we should be okay with incontinence. This is going to change how parents raise their kids! This is going to change how kids interact with each other in locker rooms or with the stinky kid in pre-school.

What is this going to mean for toilet paper manufacturers? Are we as a society going to start to use less toilet paper? Is the toilet paper industry going to spiral into financial despair, requiring a federal bailout because we are all okay with a little anal leakage?

How about salty snacks and fat substitutes, like Olestra? Are we just going to replace all the fats with man-made fats because a little anal leakage is okay? Invest in Frito Lay, I say!

What about the clothing industry? Are pants prices going to increase because the butt and crotch portion will require absorptive reinforcement? Will demand for underpants increase because people will carry multiple sets to get through the day?

The implications are mind boggling once we are okay with a little incontinence.

But(t) being the rebel I am, I'm going to go against the government on this one. Cleanliness is next to godliness is how the expression goes and that works for my butt too!

For more resources on incontinence, check out this search on the NIH website. There's more than you could want to know!


Unknown said...

Shit, Beau! Very Informative. I guess calling someone Mr. Poopy Pants will be a compliment in the future. And my favorite (but not yours--so low-brow)"crap" won't fully explain the urgency of my explanation. It will be so inadequete. What a pisser!

Anonymous said...

Ok I got an incontinent dog and and incontinent grandma. Both bowel incontinent. You don't even know.....

Beau said...

Murph - see how life changing it is. It will change the way we speak and compliment each other.

Helen - I'll start in trying to reduce the stigma: There is nothing wrong with that, why 1 in 4 adults will be incontinent.

I wonder if the tax-funded NIH will report on dog incontinence?

I wonder, too, if dogs have more sub-types of incontinence? Like the kind when they are rubbing their butt on the carpet. I wonder what they would call that in the medical industry, carpet wiping incontinence?