That’s right, incontinence happens to all of us! It may happen because of aging, injury or medical conditions. Incontinence can be temporary or permanent, it can be short term or long term. It may start out as simple as a sneeze and slowly progress to total loss of bladder control, it can occur from an infection or accident causing internal trauma, it may be a result of complications during childbirth or surgical procedures and it may occur as a result of obstructions and/or neurological disorders. Rest assured, no matter why or when it happens (and it will), it can be treated with products that are designed to suit your needs, no matter what the situation is. What most people don’t know is how to treat incontinence.
Treating incontinence starts with knowledge; knowing the amount of protection needed and knowing the products that support these needs. Speaking strictly toward external continence coverage, there are many products that support varying amounts of the absorbency required so having a good idea of your bladder control and how much fluid output is happening can be as simple as tracking your fluid intake. It’s equally important to understand the style of incontinent products that will suit your functional and discretionary needs.
Product absorbency varies from light to maximum with each style but there are only three main styles of continence protection products for loss of bladder control – 1) Liners (pads), 2) Pull-ups (underwear) and 3) Briefs (diapers). Liners are typically used as discretionary protection for low fluid loss which can occur during exercise, laughter or sneezing and are designed for both men (guards) and women (liners). Pull-ups are most often the style of choice when needing increased protection and the individual is still capable of dressing and toileting without assistance. Pull-ups come in men’s (many traditional darker colors), women’s (mainly in peach or pink) or as a unisex version (white) and are less bulky than briefs. Briefs are designed specifically for convenience. Putting them on and removing briefs is much easier for caregivers when assisting an individual who may be non-ambulatory and also for males who may want easier access to removing one side when standing at a urinal. Briefs are typically unisex (white) and most often have the highest absorbency rating. Although choosing the correct protection is key for moisture management both Pull-ups and Briefs can be used in conjunction with a liner for added protection at night or over longer periods that don’t allow for changing.
Finally, odor containment and moisture “wicking” properties may or may not be a deciding factor when choosing a suitable product. It is important to know if and when there may be sensitivities to either property. For individuals that may be often surrounded by others, either in a care facility or a sociable environment, it is advisable to look for a product that has an odor neutralizer incorporated into the product. Similarly, sensitivities to moisture management can be controlled by choosing a product that has been specifically designed with a top layer that reduces the amount of backflow moisture to the skin and that has the ability to contain fluid and eliminate leakage as much as possible.
All in all loss of bladder control will most likely happen and when it does it is important to know that you are not alone. Knowing what absorbency you need, the style of product that suits your needs and any sensitivities will help you make the right choice of product. If this all seems much too complicated then find a store that has a professional incontinence advisor and you can be guaranteed that your product will be right for you!
Written by: Karen Veldkamp-Perry B.P.Ed.
Canadian Health Care Products
OVERACTIVE BLADDER OR INCONTINENCE
The right protection involves understanding your needs.
It is estimated that up to 27% of males and 43% females will experience the symptoms of an overactive bladder as they age and up to 70% of these individuals will develop incontinence due to an overactive bladder. Knowing your symptoms, speaking with your physician or a professional incontinent advisor and discovering how best to manage your needs will help prevent embarrassing events that may occur.
Knowing there are four main symptoms associated with an overactive bladder and four main types of incontinence is your first step. Manageable symptoms that may be involved with having an overactive bladder include Urgency (a sudden desire), Frequency (more than 8x/ day), Nocturia (up greater than 2x/ night) and Urge Incontinence (involuntary leakage while feeling an urgency). Alternatively the four types (or stages) of incontinence are classified as Urge, Stress, Overflow and Functional Incontinence, each of which involve a lack of good bladder function and will require some form of protection.
Starting a journal and charting your events is an important part of understanding your needs and can assist a doctor when making an accurate diagnosis. Charting should include documenting your fluid intake and recording the time of day, sensation associated and voiding success. If you choose not to see a doctor then a chart will also help you or a professional incontinence advisor decide on the appropriate protective product. Both types of professionals will help you discover that there are non-prescriptive and prescriptive measures that can be taken and either or both will be dependent on the diagnosis and/or your personal preferences. Non-prescriptive management includes lifestyle modifications such as less fluid intake and avoiding certain triggers such as caffeine, as well as bladder training with timed voiding and pelvic floor exercises. Prescriptive management includes medication and/or devices designed to eliminate embarrassing and ill-timed voiding. And while medications may slow or decrease the amount of incontinent events you experience, absorbent devices are designed to protect you from these ill-timed events and give you back your quality of life, free from embarrassment.
Protective devices include absorbent products, collecting systems, external, intermittent or indwelling catheters and occluders. Absorbent products vary from light to maximum with each style of product and a professional Incontinence Advisor should have the time to consult with you as well as carry a variety of products and selection charts for you to refer. Simply knowing that there are only three main styles of absorbent protection products makes things a bit easier and is a good place to start when making a choice. The three styles include Liners (pads), Pull-ups (underwear) and Briefs (diapers).
If this all seems a bit overwhelming then find a store that has a Professional Incontinence Advisor and you can be guaranteed that you will get the guidance you need and the right protection!
Written by: Karen Veldkamp-Perry B.P.Ed.
Canadian Health Care Products