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Incontinence is 'secret widespread ailment'
Photo: DPA

Incontinence is 'secret widespread ailment'

Published: 10 Nov 2012 10:00 GMT+01:00
Updated: 10 Nov 2012 10:00 GMT+01:00

Nine million, or one in ten Germans, are unable to control fecal or urinal defecation. Yet despite the high numbers of people affected, it remains a taboo subject in society. Many suffer from the ailment from birth, or following an operation, or due to the effects of age, said experts as they met for a conference on Friday.

“The subject has negative connotations. Nobody likes to admit: 'I wet my pants,'” said Klaus-Peter Jünemann, head of the German Continence Society at the meeting of around 1000 medical professionals in Würzburg, Bavaria, who gathered to discuss diagnosis and treatment methods.

Around a quarter of women and one in ten men over the age of 60 suffer from a lack of bladder control, but despite its reputation as an ailment associated with old age, incontinence can also affect young people and children.

“Only ten percent of those affected are adequately treated. And that's a big problem,” said Jünemann, who called for the wall of silence surrounding incontinence to be broken down, not just by those affected, who are often embarrassed, but also by the medical establishment.

“Incontinence is also trivialised by doctors” said Ursla Peschers, Chief Physician at the gynecology unit at the Munich-Bogenhausen surgical hospital.

“If those affected overcome [their embarrassment] and succeed in talking about their problems, doctors should at least know the right contact places [to refer them to],” said Christoph-Thomas Germer, director of a surgical clinic at the University clinic in Würzburg.

People suffering from incontinence must find the courage to seek information from competent advice centres and not carry the problem around with them for years in secret, said the Continence Society. If left alone, urinal incontinence can lead to difficult psychological and social complications such as depression, anxiety or social isolation.

DPA/The Local/jlb

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

18:38 November 10, 2012 by Englishted
Verbal fecal incontinence has been a overlooked problem in the Bundestag for as long as I can remember.
19:35 November 10, 2012 by realist1961
i've come close to wetting my pants while looking for money to pay for the toilet
22:16 November 10, 2012 by McM
I think the posters are just taking the p..s outer the readers on this issue.(sorry couldn't resist)

Sadly it is a very serious problem having witnessed a close relative go through this in old age. Luckily she had a great sense of humor and often had us in fits of laughter with stories of emergencies. Little Britton also comes to mind.
02:00 November 11, 2012 by Steve1949
Maybe that's why you see so many men taking a leak on trees, bushes and on the sides of buildings in Germany. Just like dogs.
15:50 November 16, 2012 by DiaperDynamo
It really is beginning to become more acceptable. Its a common medical condition that many people suffer from and deal with.

If you or a loved one has recently become incontinent check out www.wearing-adult-diapers.com for reviews on adult diapers and other incontinence products.
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