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Managing Urinary Incontinence With Absorbent Products

Posted by Hugh Nurse on


Your ability to control urination or defecation requires: a normal anatomy, a normally functioning nervous system and, being able to determine and respond to the warning signs of an impending bathroom call.  Incontinence is the involuntary discharge of urine or faeces due to a lack of control of the bladder or bowels and occurs because one or more of the afore-mentioned organs are not functioning as it should.

The main approaches to treating incontinence are: behavioral, medicinal and surgical.  However, regardless of the type and treatment required, there will likely be a period during which a less invasive method of management is necessary.  The focus of this document is to assist you in making the right decision, in selecting an absorbent product that will enable you to continue participating in normal everyday activities.These are products which absorbs urine: adult diapers, plastic-coated underwear and pads, or panty liners that can be used to manage any form of incontinence.Fear of bladder accidents can isolate you from work, friends, and family. You may feel so alone, but you're not. About 25 million American adults -- most of them women -- deal with the same problem. Incontinence is not a normal part of aging, nor is it something you just have to live with. There are solutions. The sooner you call your doctor, the faster you can get treated.

First Steps

It's hard to admit incontinence to yourself, let alone tell your doctor. That's why women wait, on average, six years before getting diagnosed. Take the first step and call your primary doctor. You may be referred to a urologist, gynecologist, or urogynecologist, who treats urinary conditions. At your first visit, ask your doctor whether your diet, health conditions, or medications could be causing the problem.

What Type of Incontinence Is It?

Before your doctor can treat your incontinence, he needs to know what type it is and what's causing it. Menopause and childbirth (in women), prostate problems (in men), medication, and obesity can all contribute to incontinence. When a cough, laugh, or sneeze releases urine, it's likely stress incontinence. With urge incontinence, you feel a sudden need to go before leakage happens. Overactive bladder (OAB) is marked by urinary frequency and urgency. Stress and urge incontinence are the most common types of urinary incontinence. People may also have a combination of the two.

Your Doctor Visit: What to Expect

Your doctor will do some careful sleuthing. You'll be asked about your health, a history of your symptoms, which medicines you take, and when you're having accidents. The doctor will conduct a physical exam to help diagnose you. Afterward, you may need to keep a voiding diary, recording every time you go or experience wetness.

Tests to Diagnose Incontinence

The doctor may order a variety of tests to evaluate your symptoms and rule out any medical conditions. She may order urine studies to check for infections, stones, or other abnormalities, as well as a bladder stress test. She may use a catheter to check for leftover urine in the bladder after voiding. Other tests may include ultrasound, cystoscopy, and urodynamics. These tests check for abnormalities and make sure your urinary system is working correctly.

Your Options: Kegels

Preventing leakage could be as simple as squeezing muscles you already use several times a day. Kegel exercises work your pelvic floor muscles -- the same ones you use to start and stop the flow of urine. To do a Kegel, you squeeze and hold these muscles for about 10 seconds. Then release. Do about 10 to 20 Kegels a day. Not sure what to squeeze? Biofeedback sessions can help you find the right muscles.

Your Options: Bladder Retraining

Putting your bathroom visits on a schedule can help you gain more control over your bladder. In bladder retraining, you go to the bathroom only at regular intervals -- for instance, every two hours. If you have to go before your scheduled time, use Kegels or relaxation techniques to hold it in until the urge passes. Over time, you'll train yourself to go less frequently, with longer and longer intervals between bathroom breaks.

Your Options: Medicine

Some drugs can treat incontinence related to overactive bladder. Anticholinergics help control bladder contractions. A tricyclic antidepressant may sometimes be prescribed to help relax the bladder muscle. Side effects from these drugs can include dry mouth, fatigue, and blurred vision. Some people may not be able to take these medications, however. Men with incontinence problems related to an enlarged prostate may get help from alpha blockers, which relax muscles of the prostate and bladder neck, and 5-alpha reductase inhibitors, which help reduce prostate size.

Your Options: Other Treatments

For stress incontinence, a pessary device inserted into the vagina presses against the bladder neck and urethra so you have less leakage. Injections of collagen and other bulking substances can thicken tissues around the bladder neck to narrow its opening. Sling or suspension surgery lifts the urethra and bladder neck back into place. For urge incontinence, painless nerve stimulation therapy may discourage nerves from signaling a full bladder too soon.

Men and Incontinence

Men can experience incontinence as a result of illness or injury. Sometimes men develop overflow incontinence because of an enlarged prostate gland. The prostate might squeeze and block the regular flow of urine from the bladder. While bladder retraining, lifestyle changes, and Kegels work for men too, medicines or surgical treatments may help. Surgical options include artificial sphincters or male slings, which support the urethra and keep it closed when necessary.

Pads and Liners

There are number of pads and guards designed for men and women who experience the loss of small to moderate amounts of urine.  These pads are manufactured to absorb fluid more effectively with: a waterproof back, a pad containing a gel-forming polymer and an adhesive strip which fastens the product to your underclothing. They are meant to be worn inside your underwear, come in varying sizes, have different levels of absorbency and can be disposable. The padding and gel are made specifically to handle the chemical composition of urine thus ensuring maximum protection. Liners are similar in content to pads and are both longer and wider while offering better front-to-back protection; many are made with elastic gussets on the sides to fit the curvature of the body and help prevent leakage. Alternatively there are belted undergarments which replace ordinary underpants. This device includes: a belt with attachments of either buttons or velcro at the front and rear to which a pad is secured. The belt is made of elastic which facilitates easy removal (for toilet use) or change.

Disposable Underwear

Disposable briefs are designed for moderate to heavy incontinence and are similar in appearance to baby diapers. The difference being that, there are two or three tape closures on either side to provide additional security. They are manufactured with a plastic or thread-like waterproof and absorbent padding, which contains gel-forming polymer to absorb urine. They offer different levels of absorbency, shell structure. and odor control. In choosing one, you need to be aware of the benefits and drawbacks of each. Cheap briefs appear to save on cost. However, their level of absorbency is relatively low and their shell casing have a fragile plastic backing that tears easily,  are often noisy and the fasteners are unreliable. This means that the frequency of change occurs more often than the more expensive brands which offer a noiseless cloth-like or more robust shell covering with tapes which can be refastened repeatedly.  This type of product is also available as one-piece absorbent underpants (pull-ups). The preferred type of briefs depends on the choice of each individual, based on their precise situation. For an active person a disposable brief of good quality is more reliable, providing protection for a longer period of time and safely allowing for a greater range of activity than any of the other products.

Reusable Products

For many people disposable products may be the only option, however, also available are reusable (washable) products for persons who may be experiencing slight to moderate incontinence. These include incontinence undergarments which resemble normal underwear, with sewn in absorbent pads and are available in a variety of absorbency levels for both men and women. There are:  contoured cloth diapers with a plastic covering, adult cloth diapers and vinyl, nylon and rubber waterproof outer pants that are worn over the undergarments providing an extra level of protection.

Bed and Chair Protection

For in-house usage there are also bed and chair protectors.  Underpads are flat absorbent pads which are used to protect mattresses, bed linens and chairs. These may be made with absorbent cotton flannel on one side with a waterproof backing and are available in be disposable or reusable formats. While underpads offer partial covering to bedding, mattress pads are used to cover the complete mattress and come in varying sizes to fit all mattresses.

Your choice of product should be determined by: your degree of incontinence, the product’s absorbency, durability, odor control proficiency, its comfort and ease of use, your lifestyle and the cost. With the right product and its proper use you can live a normal life and continue to participate in most activities. Although cost is a factor you need to consider the old adage “it’s better to be safe than sorry” and not let it be the major factor in choosing the right product.

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SUMMARY:  The main approaches to treating incontinence are: behavioral, medicinal and surgical. However, regardless of the type and treatment required, there’ll likely be a period during which a less invasive method of management is necessary.  (35/234)

KEYWORDS:  incontinence,urinary incontinence,incontinence products,incontinence supplies,protective underwear,adult diapers,underpads,disposable underwear,overactive bladder,urge incontinence,stress incontinence  (10/200)



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