According to the National Association for Continence, over 17 million people in the United States experience some form of urinary incontinence every day. But, with the right information and preparation, incontinence doesn’t have to be a big deal. In this article, you’ll find our list of products and top tips for reducing the impact of incontinence on your life.
What is urinary incontinence?
Urinary incontinence is the involuntary loss of urine from a lack of bladder control. There are many types of urinary incontinence that each range in severity from slight to complete.
Types of urinary incontinence:
— Stress incontinence: urine leaks caused by pressure (stress) on the bladder from activities such as sneezing, laughing, coughing, and exercising.
— Urge incontinence: a bladder spasm causes a sudden, strong urge to urinate followed by an involuntary loss of urine. The urge to urinate is unrelated to activity.
— Overflow incontinence: when the bladder doesn’t completely empty, constant dribbling of urine occurs because the bladder is too full.
— Functional incontinence: when the urinary tract functions properly but urine leaks occur due to a mental or physical impairment.
— Mixed incontinence: a combination of multiple types of urinary incontinence.
— Reflex incontinence: a bladder spasm causes an involuntary loss of urine with little to no warning. Reflex incontinence is caused by the same bladder spasm as urge incontinence but with reflex incontinence, loss of urine is more immediate.
What incontinence supplies help manage urinary incontinence?
There are a variety of incontinence products with different features, designed to help you control the symptoms of urinary incontinence. By choosing the incontinence supplies that best fit your lifestyle, you can comfortably and confidently manage your urinary incontinence.
Here are some of the most common products to help you manage urinary incontinence.
Incontinence pads, also known as bladder control pads, are a great option for those experiencing light to mild urinary incontinence. These pads are discreet, adhering directly to your underwear, and can be worn both day and night. While they might look similar, incontinence pads are not the same as women’s menstrual pads. Incontinence pads are made specifically to absorb urine and there are options available for both women and men.
Best for: protection against occasional urine drips.
Incontinence underwear/adult pull-ups
Incontinence underwear, also known as adult-pull-ups, is a type of protective underwear made to absorb moderate to severe urine leaks. These products pull-on like traditional underwear and can be worn both day and night. Those who live more active lifestyles often opt for incontinence underwear as there are a variety of options designed to fit discreetly under your clothes.
Best for: active individuals looking for protection against frequent incontinence.
Adult diapers/adult briefs
Adult diapers, or adult briefs, absorb moderate to severe urine leaks and are fitted using adhesive tabs that can be refastened. Diapers are typically preferred by people with caretakers or those with limited mobility since the tabs allow the diapers to be changed without having to fully remove any clothing.
Best for: individuals with limited mobility, looking for protection against frequent incontinence.
Booster pads adhere to the incontinence underwear or diaper you are already wearing for added absorbency and protection.
Best for: individuals needing additional absorbency for incontinence products.
Underpads, also referred to as chux or bed pads, are sheets used to protect wheelchairs, mattresses, and other pieces of furniture from incontinence leaks. While your incontinence products should prevent any leaks, underpads can give you peace of mind in case any accidents do occur.
Best for: individuals who want to protect furniture from incontinence leaks.
For people who find traditional incontinence products too much of a hassle or are unable to use them, urinary catheters can be an alternative for managing your incontinence.
Catheters for urinary incontinence:
— External catheters (men only): also known as condom catheters, external catheters fit over the penis like a condom and are attached to a drainage bag that collects the urine. External catheters are a great alternative to traditional incontinence products as they are still non-invasive but also offer more comfort and dignity.
— Foley/indwelling catheters: are typically inserted through the urethra by a medical professional and can stay in the body for one month. These catheters are either fitted with a valve that can be opened and closed when needed, or attached to a drainage bag that collects the urine.
— Suprapubic catheters: are similar to foley catheters except they are inserted by a medical professional through a small incision in the abdomen if the urethra is damaged or blocked. Suprapubic catheters can be left in the body for up to one month and are also fitted with either a valve or a drainage bag.
Best for: individuals who are unable to manage their urinary incontinence with traditional products or find them inconvenient.
Additional incontinence supplies
Wearing incontinence products such as diapers and underwear can sometimes cause skin irritation if your skin is in contact with moisture for extended periods of time. To address this, there is a selection of skin care products created to keep your skin healthy and address any irritation.
— Cleansers: available in foams, sprays, and gels, cleansers can be used to both condition and clean the skin.
— Washcloths: offer the same benefits as cleansers except the cleanser is contained in a washcloth for added convenience.
— Moisturizers: help prevent dry skin.
Top 10 tips for managing urinary incontinence
There are a variety of ways to reduce your symptoms of urinary incontinence. Below you’ll find our list of tips for better controlling your bladder.
1. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Urinary incontinence is very common and there are a lot of resources that can help you manage your incontinence. Start by talking to your doctor to see what advice they can give you and any products they recommend.
2. Do pelvic floor exercises
Pelvic floor exercises or Kegel exercises, strengthen the pelvic floor muscles that support the bladder and bowel. Some people who practice these exercises regularly are able to gain greater control over the bladder and some may even eliminate urinary incontinence altogether.
3. Manage your fluid intake
While you may be tempted to drink less to reduce incontinence, not drinking enough water can lead to more problems. Try to avoid drinking large amounts all at once, and instead, regulate your fluid intake throughout the day. Also try to limit the amount you drink a few hours before going to bed to avoid any leaking from occurring at night.
4. Avoid caffeine
Caffeinated drinks such as coffee, tea, and soda can irritate the bladder and cause increased urine production.
5. Be aware of how foods affect your body
Spicy and acidic foods are known to irritate the bladder and cause increased symptoms of urinary incontinence. While this is not true for everyone, take note of what you’re eating and how it is affecting your body.
6. Start bladder training
Bladder training is a technique used to retrain your bladder to hold urine for longer periods of time. Start by keeping a bladder diary where you note down information like when you use the restroom, what and when you’re drinking, how you felt before using the restroom, and when leaks occurred. After a few days, look through your diary to identify any common patterns or instances that triggered incontinence. Then make appropriate changes to your lifestyle.
When retraining your bladder, start by using the restroom at regular intervals, however often you decide based off of your bladder diary. Then, when you feel comfortable, gradually increase the amount of time between restroom breaks. Even starting by adding five minutes between restroom breaks can build to significant increases in your bladder control. The end goal is to be able to hold your bladder for three or four hours at a time, without leaks or urges in between.
When practicing bladder training:
— Avoid using the restroom “just in case”, stick to your schedule as much as possible.
— Don’t rush to the restroom as soon as you feel the urge, instead try resisting the urge by thinking of something else or performing kegel exercises. If the urge returns or does not subside, you can make your way slowly to the restroom to empty your bladder.
— While managing your incontinence can feel stressful; rather finding ways to relax, stay calm, and focus on how you can best address your needs.
7. Maintain a healthy weight
Carrying excess weight puts added pressure on the bladder and urethra, putting you at greater risk for urinary incontinence. Adopting a healthier diet and exercising regularly can both decrease your incontinence symptoms, as well as decrease your likelihood of developing more symptoms in the future.
8. Treat constipation
Constipation can lead to urinary incontinence. Make sure to eat plenty of fiber to maintain a healthy bowel and talk to your doctor if you need additional help.
9. Stop smoking
Smoking puts you at greater risk for urinary incontinence by causing you to cough more, increasing strain on your pelvic floor muscles.
10. Review your medications
There are many medications that may trigger or cause urinary incontinence. Talk to your doctor to see if one of the medications you are taking is causing your incontinence and if it’s possible to switch to one with fewer side effects.
Medications that may cause symptoms of urinary incontinence include:
High-blood pressure medication: relax muscles around the bladder opening, causing leaks when sneezing, coughing, or laughing.
— Diuretics: cause the kidneys to increase urine production.
— Muscle sedatives and relaxants: increases the need to urinate by relaxing the urethra.
— Narcotics: relax the bladder, causing it to retain too much urine.
— Decongestants and Antihistamines: relax the bladder, causing it to retain too much urine.
Finding the best incontinence supplies for you
Incontinence supplies are designed to address a variety of needs depending on the severity of your symptoms as well as your lifestyle. With the right products, you or your loved one can confidently and discreetly manage your urinary incontinence with ease.
Better Health carries a selection of both incontinence products and external catheters that can help you best manage your urinary incontinence. If you’d like to learn more about your options, start by receiving a free sample box that will introduce you to a range of different incontinence products.