This article aims to describe the basic concepts of taking a history from a patient with incontinence. This article deals with male incontinence, please refer to this article for an overview of female incontinence. Despite this, there are many common elements shared between male and female incontinence histories...
The patient's initial opening sentences may give you some idea of what is going on, and you will need to clarify most of their statements in terms of the regularity of the problem.
Try and get a feel of how it's affecting their day-to-day life - you may not see it as much of a problem to get up twice in the night to visit the toilet, but imagine if that's every night for the rest of your life. No wonder if the patient looks a bit tired!
It's also often a good idea to clarify what's made them present to you today - what has changed, ?
Some questions that may help you identify a particular cause:
A summary of useful questions to elicit a satisfactory urology history, (adapted from [2-10]):
A full review of the patient's medical history should be taken. Relevant conditions to pay particular attention to are:
Again, a normal systems review, drug and social history should be undertaken, but some particular points to make sure you check are:
All of the above history sections are important to elicit as there is much overlap between the different types of incontinence (see diagram below) and a strong urology history can often produce a list of classic symptoms nearly pathogenomic of a particular diagnosis.
The following PatientPlus articles on Patient UK are a good reference resource:
 Thomas,J. Monaghan, T. Oxford Handbook of Clinical Examination and Practical Skills. Oxford University Press 2007
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