Urinary incontinence, or accidentally leaking urine, can happen to anyone. However, incontinence most commonly affects older adults and women. Thankfully, there are ways to control or cure urinary incontinence. Your healthcare provider can work with you to discuss your bladder control concerns and treatment options.
In the meantime, here are some of the lifestyle changes you can make that can help to alleviate urinary incontinence.
What Causes Urinary Incontinence?
There are a variety of things that may cause urinary incontinence. Short-term incontinence may result from health conditions, including bladder infections, urinary tract infections, constipation, or vaginal infections. The causes of chronic or ongoing urinary incontinence may include:
- Weak pelvic floor muscles
- Weak bladder muscles
- Overactive bladder muscles
- Nerve damage from disease
- Blockage from an enlarged prostate (men)
- Pelvic organ prolapse
When men suffer from urinary incontinence, it typically involves an issue with the prostate gland.
How Is Urinary Incontinence Diagnosed?
A proper diagnosis is the first step in treating urinary incontinence. During an appointment, your physician can conduct a physical exam, take your medical history, and perform tests that measure how well you empty your bladder. Your doctor may also refer you to a urologist for further testing.
Managing Urinary Incontinence
Understanding the cause of your bladder control issues is critical to proper management. Your healthcare provider can help determine the cause of urine leakage and discuss interventions to help manage it. Management of urinary incontinence typically includes a combination of lifestyle changes, medications, and products to address leaks when they happen.
While you’re in the process of making lifestyle changes that improve your symptoms, incontinence products, such as pads, wipes, and protective underwear, can help to address any accidental urine leakage that might occur in a sanitary way.
Bladder Control Training
A doctor, nurse, or physical therapist may recommend bladder control training to give you better command over your bladder. Bladder control training may include Kegel or pelvic muscle exercises. These muscles help you to stop urinating. Strengthening them can help you hold in urine until you can reach a restroom.
Timed voiding is another bladder control method you can use. Timed voiding requires urinating on a set schedule and slowly lengthening the time between urination. Timed voiding can work well in conjunction with Kegel exercises.
Your healthcare provider may ask you to keep a bladder diary. This can help you determine triggers for urinary incontinence and track your progress as you strengthen and train your bladder. It can also help determine how well medications are working for you.
Other Lifestyle Changes
Losing weight if overweight, quitting smoking, and drinking less alcohol or caffeine can positively affect urinary incontinence. Avoiding bladder irritants such as artificial sweeteners may also help. Staying hydrated is important, as concentrated urine may also irritate the bladder. Consider steadily drinking fluids throughout the day, instead of large amounts at one time. Avoiding large amounts of fluids before bed can reduce nighttime accidents.
Constipation can make urinary incontinence worse. Preventing constipation by eating fiber-rich foods and drinking more water may help patients struggling with urine leakage.
Medical Intervention and Incontinence Supplies
Your doctor may prescribe medication to help your bladder empty more completely during urination or reduce the feeling of “always having to go”. Some older women may benefit from using a vaginal estrogen cream to relieve urinary incontinence. Reach out to your healthcare provider to determine if medicines are appropriate for you. If you are a woman experiencing pelvic organ prolapse, a pessary may be an option. A pessary is a silicone insert worn in the vagina to support the urethra and eliminate leakage. It requires evaluation by a medical professional to determine the correct size. In some cases, surgical options are available to correct urinary incontinence.
However, while you work with your healthcare provider to determine the best course of action, using incontinence supplies can help you manage urine leakage and return to your usual activities.
- External Catheters (Condom Catheters) for men
- Absorbent underwear and pull-ups
- Pads and shields
- Bed Pads
- Skin care products and cleansers
External catheters, also known as condom catheters, are worn over the penis, and connected to a leg bag or bedside drainage bag. The urine flows into the bag instead of wetting clothing. The external catheter is replaced daily.
Absorbent underwear, pull-ups and briefs are highly absorbent products designed to be discreetly worn under clothing like underwear. The special lining will absorb urine.
Pads and shields are absorbent products placed in the underwear to absorb small amounts of urine for occasional light leaks.
Bed pads are absorbent pads that can be placed under the body when laying in bed or sitting in chair. These pads will absorb urine and prevent furniture from getting wet.
Delicate skin can become damaged when exposed to urine. Skin care products and cleansers are used to keep skin clean, healthy, and strong.
Regardless of the cause of your urinary incontinence, your physician can work with you to determine an effective course of action for managing your condition, helping you live a lifestyle free from worry about unexpected urine leakage. Partner with leading incontinence supply companies to stay up to date on all the products you need to manage your incontinence.
Disclaimer: Information presented here is not intended as a substitute for medical advice. It is important to seek proper medical advice from a licensed medical professional regarding any of the medical conditions or supply offerings referenced.