Mon, 21 Aug 2000

Incontinence sufferers ashamed of their illness

JAKARTA (JP): Doctors and health experts are calling for a greater awareness of urinary incontinence as people suffering from the ailment are often to embarrassed to seek assistance.

Urinary incontinence is a condition where people are unable to control urine discharge.

It can be caused by damage to the nervous system and hip bones, a high frequency of childbirth, obesity, serious illnesses and bladder infections.

"It's not a deadly affliction, but it has a large social impact, as well as a loss of confidence, because sufferers are embarrassed if people know they wet their pants and bed all the time," Rochani, the head of urology at Cipto Mangunkusumo General Hospital (RSCM) told The Jakarta Post on Saturday.

He added that urinary incontinence disease also causes infection in the genital area.

Rochani was speaking on the sidelines of a seminar at the Acacia Hotel in Central Jakarta about the condition and the establishment of a urinary incontinence association.

RSCM, which has the country's only clinic dealing with incontinence, estimates there are at least 10 million people suffering from the condition.

While it mostly affects the elderly, there are cases of children younger than 10 years of age being diagnosed with urinary incontinence.

According to Rochani, surveys conducted at RSCM and Kariadi Hospital in Semarang, Central Java, show that 11 percent of hospital visitors, even those who were not sick, have the ailment.

"The percentage doesn't include urology patients," he added.

Urinary incontinence sufferers number in the millions in many other countries.

A professor from Hanover, Germany, Udo Jonas, who spoke at the seminar, said that as many as seven million people in Germany, or about 8 percent of the population, suffer from it. (09)