STROKE AND INCONTINENCE

Incontinence can be caused by a number of changes after a stroke such as:

  • muscle weakness
  • changed sensation or feeling
  • difficulty putting off going to the toilet when the urge is felt
  • difficulty dressing and undressing
  • difficulty getting to the toilet
  • changes in eating and drinking habits that affect your digestion
  • changes to communication and thinking skills
  • changes to vision.

FEATURED VIDEO

Stephen Marburg from the National Continence Helpline discusses the affect that stroke can have on bladder and bowel control. Video produced by National Stroke Foundation.

FEATURED PODCAST

Stroke and Incontinence

Produced as part of the EnableMe podcast series from the Stroke Foundation.
Recorded 18 June 2019 | 33 minutes

During World Continence Week, the Stroke Foundation hosted a podcast to discuss bladder and bowel problems after stroke. The podcast features Sue Blinman from the National Continence Helpline, stroke survivor Jenny Ferrier, and Simone Russell from StrokeLine.

MANAGEMENT

There are steps you can take to better manage bladder and bowel control issues after stroke:

Eat well

Have a good diet with lots of fruit and vegetables. A dietitian can help you get the right balance of fibre and fluid in your diet.

Drink well

Drink adequate fluids to quench your thirst. Speak to your doctor about how much fluid intake is right for you. Water is the best fluid as this can help stop bladder irritation and improve bowel function (which can affect bladder control). Be aware that recommended fluid intake varies with hotter weather, more exercise and other health conditions. 

Avoid 'bladder irritants'

These are drinks that make you need to go to the toilet more often. They include coffee, tea, chocolate drinks, cola drinks, alcohol and high sugar/high caffeine ‘sports’ drinks. For some people, tomato or citrus foods and drinks or dairy products can also be a problem. It is a very individual situation so try to be aware of your own food and drink sensitivities. A bladder diary may help you identify these.

Get moving

Exercise as much as you can. A physiotherapist can help you with an exercise program that suits your needs.

Don't put off going to the toilet

Try going to the toilet at regular times (i.e. every 3 - 4 hours). Do not put off going to the toilet if you feel the need to empty your bladder or bowel – go as soon as you need to and make sure you completely empty your bladder or bowel when you go to the toilet.

Wear suitable clothing

Wear clothes that are easy to get undone quickly. Replace buttons with VELCRO®  fasteners or wear pants with elastic waistbands. Set up your toilet and or bathroom so you can get to it quickly and easily – including finding it easily at night.

Continence products

There are a number of products available to help you stay dry, secure and comfortable. These include disposable or re‐usable pads, pants, liners, absorbent underclothing, mattress protectors, doona covers and bed sheets. You can buy some of these products at your local supermarket, chemist or specialist retailer. 

You may be eligible for financial assistance that can help with the cost of purchasing continence products.

Equipment

Raised toilet seats rails on the wall beside the toilet can be of assistance. You may also want to keep a commode chair and portable urinal bottle next to your bed at night.

You can search for a range of continence-related product providers and services in our directories. Staff on the National Continence Helpline can also help you choose products and equipment to best suit your needs.

SEEK HELP

In many cases incontinence can be better managed and even cured. Talk to your doctor or contact the National Continence Helpline on 1800 33 00 66.

The National Continence Helpline is staffed by continence nurse specialists who offer free and confidential information, advice and support.  They also provide a wide range of continence-related resources and referrals to local services.

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Last Updated: Wed 15, Jul 2020
Last Reviewed: Thu 19, Mar 2020