Stroke Training and Awareness Resources (STARs)

Finding the cause of incontinence

It is important to identify why a person is having incontinence problems. Often talking sensitively with someone about their incontinence can give you a lot of information. However, there are also a number of investigation and assessment tools which may be appropriate to use. For example:

  • Fluid balance charts – record how often and how much urine the person is passing
  • Food and fluid diary to ensure adequate fluid and nutritional intake
  • Urine testing – used to detect urinary infections (urine may also smell ‘fishy’ and appear cloudy)
  • Bladder scan – shows whether the person is emptying their bladder effectively. Bladder scans are carried out by specially trained staff
  • A bowel diary or documentation of bowel movements – records how often a person is opening their bowels. If a person has poor memory or is confused it is particularly important to record this information

Once the cause of incontinence is found, there are many ways to help manage/treat incontinence. A continence specialist may also be able to assist in making the correct treatment choices for a person with continence issues. A continence assessment should be done for each patient who is identified as having a urinary or faecal incontinence problem.

Page last reviewed: 30 Jan 2020