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TOO EMBARRASSED TO SEEK HELP

Dear Abby: I am writing in response to the letter from "Can't Stand It in N.J.," whose boyfriend wets the bed every night. There are many misconceptions about incontinence. Chances are he refuses to see a physician because he is embarrassed or may not understand the treatment options and resources available to him. Abby, he is not alone in this. An estimated 25 million Americans are plagued by incontinence problems.

It's time to help people address this "taboo" subject. The National Association for Continence (NAFC), is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to educate the public about the causes and cures for incontinence. We offer a free packet of information about incontinence, including a brochure titled "Seeking Treatment" to help prepare for a visit with a doctor to make a first visit as productive as possible.

Please encourage any of your readers with questions about incontinence to call our NAFC toll-free number (800) 252-3337. It is staffed by a full-time health educator to answer questions for callers. We also have a Web site, www.nafc.org, filled with information about incontinence, treatment and management options.

-- Nancy Muller, executive director, NAFC

Dear Nancy: Since printing that letter, I have received letters from readers informing me that incontinence can be caused by a variety of ailments -- which include allergies, spinal cord problems, a sleep disorder and kidney disease, to name a few. Most of these problems can be dealt with if a person is willing to discuss them with a medical professional.

"Can't Stand It" indicated that her boyfriend steadfastly refused to see a doctor about his problem, and she had reached the end of her rope in waking up every morning in a wet bed, so I told her it was time to say goodbye. If this was something he couldn't help, I wouldn't have been so quick to say it. However, it's hard to find sympathy for a person who is not willing to help himself.

Looking for a girl

Dear Abby: I am a 15-year-old boy with one request: a girlfriend. I have tried, on five separate occasions, to explain to my mother that I'm not her little boy anymore, but I'm bad with words and my message did not get through. S

I know what to do and what not to do, but my mom won't listen. All I want is a little affection from someone other than my relatives. Is that so wrong? -- Needs help in Connecticut

Dear Needs Help: No, it's not wrong; it's normal. Your mother might wish to keep you "safely out of trouble," but she's going about it in the wrong way. You would be better served if your mother made certain that you know what you need to assure that you make smart and healthy choices, because in a very short time you will no longer be asking her permission. You're maturing right on schedule.

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