Mon 18, Jun 2018

The $67 billion silent health epidemic affecting 1 in 4 Aussies

Over 5 million adult Australians are suffering in silence from a $67 billion health issue that for the majority can be helped or even cured.

Incontinence is on the rise and now affects one in four Australians, of all ages and genders.1 It is an embarrassing and frequently painful problem that can lead to anxiety, depression and other serious health issues. While often curable, only 30% of people with a problem seek help.2

“World Continence Week is a timely reminder that the majority of people affected by incontinence can be treated, better managed and even cured. It is important people make the call for help, says CEO of the Continence Foundation of Australia, Rowan Cockerell.

Mrs Cockerell says the stigma of incontinence prevents people taking action for the condition that won’t get better on its own.

“We know that many people dismiss their leaking as a normal part of getting older or after having a baby. But it’s not normal and can have a seriously negative impact on the daily life for millions of women, men and even children,” Mrs Cockerell says.

“This silent epidemic is costing the Australian economy a staggering $67 billion each year including the burden of disease, health costs, work productivity losses, carer and continence aid costs. It is a massive problem but the good news is we are working to provide the solution.”

The Continence Foundation is working with the Australian Government to deliver the National Continence Program providing awareness, information, resources, workforce education and advocacy. This includes the National Continence Helpline 1800 33 00 66 which answers over 30,000 calls for help each year and the National Public Toilet Map showing the location of over 16,000 publicly available toilets across Australia

The Continence Foundation of Australia is using humour to overcome this stigma and get people talking about their bladder, bowel and pelvic floor problems with the Laugh without Leaking campaign. It is being championed by popular comedian/actress, Bev Killick who has lived with incontinence all her life. Bev is among the many inspiring stories of Australians that the Continence Foundation is sharing during World Continence Week.

“If you keep it hidden and secret it can become an even bigger problem. Humour is a great tool for breaking down those barriers and showing people that they’re not alone and they can do something about it,” says Ms Killick who is now on the “road to continence” since becoming the Laugh Without Leaking Ambassador.

To get help for bladder, bowel and pelvic floor health problems, call the free National Continence Helpline (1800 33 00 66) or talk to a doctor or continence specialist.

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References 1 CFA continence survey 2017, Deloitte Access Economics (DAE) report 2010, AIHW ‘Continence in Australia’ 2013 2 Vissers, D., Neels, H., Vermandel, A., De Wachter, S., Tjalma, W. A. A., Wyndaele, J. J., & Taeymans, J. (2014). The effect of non‐surgical weight loss interventions on urinary incontinence in overweight women: a systematic review and meta‐analysis. Obesity reviews, 15(7), 610-617.

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The Continence Foundation of Australia is the national peak body promoting bladder
and bowel health.

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