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Incontinence Frequently Asked Questions

This article “Incontinence Frequently Asked Questions” was written to help you or your loved ones answer our most common questions regarding incontinence, and to help make solving these issues easier.

How many people have incontinence?

Just over 25 million people in the United States experience incontinence. Despite popular belief, loss of bladder control is not a symptom of old age, there has just happen to be significantly higher rates of people over the age of 65 with incontinence.

In 2010, 40 million Americans turned 65 years of age or older. Over the next 40 years, 3.65 million Americans per year will turn 65. Many will eventually need long term care (LTC) or home health care (HHC). 79% of patients in long term care experience incontinence and require some sort of product whether it is underguards to simply go in their regular underwear, protective underwear for light-moderate leakages, adult diapers/briefs for moderate – heavy leakages, or underpads to prevent their beds and sofas from leakages.

What is incontinence?

Incontinence or loss of bladder control is not an illness or a disease, rather it stems from another problem.  Loss of bladder control has been known to be a result of birth defects, pelvic surgeries, damage to the spinal cored, neurological diseases, multiple sclerosis, infections, medications, and your diet. Stress that is put on the bladder also can cause incontinence. Depending on the specific cause of incontinence, it can be temporary or permanent. It is highly recommended that if you notice any leakage or loss of bladder control, that you do contact your primary care doctor since bladder weakness and lack of control is just a symptom and not an illness.

What contributes or causes loss of bladder control?

There are a large variety of factors that cause someone to loose control of their bladder. The most frequent causes are:

-Relaxation of the pelvic muscles: this is extremely common in women after they have had children

-Reduced muscle control: this is often seen along with menopause

-Infections of inflammations of the bladder or urethra

-Nervous system or neurological disorders

-Aggravation to the bladder caused by caffeine, alcohol or medications

It is important to remember that incontinence is not an expected part of aging, and despite the large number of people that deal with it, you should speak up and see a doctor.

Why is it important to choose the right incontinence product?

Choosing the correct incontinence product is extremely important, especially the size and absorbency.  Wearing improper incontinence products can often do more harm then they help. One of the benefits of the brands that we carry is that they each offer a large supply of sizing options, from Small – XXL, something that lesser quality and cheaper products will not offer.

Here are a few of the main reasons why it is essential to have products that fit right and are designed for your specific needs.

-Skin breakdown can occur due to urine wetness rubbing against your skin.

-Odors are likely to form when urine is held against your skin

-Leakage, embarrassment, and lack of comfort can result in improper fit. When you have products that fit correctly, leakages and odors are contained better and are more enjoyable to wear. It also increases self-confidence.

View the different sizing charts for each brand to ensure you pick the best product for you: View here:

Is there more than one type of incontinence?

-Stress incontinence:

Light bladder leakage is associated with stress incontinence, as any pressure from our everyday lives can cause stress incontinence. Most commonly, movement or physical activity that puts pressure on the bladder can cause involuntary dribbles of urine. These physical movements often include exercise, coughing, sneezing, or laughing.

-Urge incontinence:

Urge incontinence is a sudden, urgent need to urinate with no access to a toilet. This is typically a result of damaged nerve between the brain and the bladder. Other causes are stroke, dementia, Alzheimer’s, and MS.

-Mixed incontinence:

Mixed incontinence is when you have more than one type of urinary incontinence symptom, for example stress and urge incontinence.  It is recommended that you figured out the symptoms that are the most bothersome or aggravating and treat those first.

-Overflow incontinence:

Overflow incontinence is the result of having more urine than the bladder is capable of holding. This happens when the bladder does not contract or release urine due to obstruction of the urethra. Common causes of overflow incontinence are diabetes, pelvic damage or surgery, spinal cord injuries, MS, or other diseases. Other causes are constipation, medications, and enlarged prostate glands.

-Fecal incontinence:

Fecal Incontinence is when you cannot control bowel movements or gas that includes liquid or solid stool. Fecal incontinence varies in severity from only a small amount of liquid waste to entire bowel movements.  Usually caused by neurological diseases, musculoskeletal disorders, or injuries to the pelvic area.

-Functional incontinence:

Functional incontinence occurs when due to physical or cognitive restrictions, you are unable to reach the toilet. These restrictions include physical barriers like being too far from the bathroom, or mental barriers like not knowing when you have to go.

For more detailed information on the different types of incontinence click here. We also recommend that you speak to your doctor.

Should I talk to my doctor?

Yes, if you are experiencing any type of loss of bladder control or leakage you should first contact your doctor. 80% of people with loss of bladder control can either be cured or see improvement. A physical exam by your doctor can easily determine the cause of your incontinence and help you and your doctor establish the best way to treat it.

How do I tell my doctor about my incontinence?

It is common and normal for you to feel uncomfortable talking about your bladder, urine, and leakages. Doctors more than anyone understand these changes and are here to help you. The best thing that you can do is to talk openly and thoroughly with your doctor about your incontinence.

Here are some talking points we suggest:

-Describe your symptoms clearly

-Let your doctor know how you are affected by your incontinence

-Discuss how long you have had incontinence and if it has progressively become worse over time

-Talk about other illnesses you have

-Bring a list of all the medications are taking, including vitamins or minerals

-Talk about any surgeries you have had recently

-Inform your doctor how many children you have had

-Ask about treatment options and incontinence products

Incontinence Frequently Asked Questions For Women

How does the female urinary system work?

In the female urinary system, there are kidneys, two ureters, a bladder and a urethra. The kidneys purpose is to remove waste from your blood and continually produce urine. The ureters are tube lie structures that are used to move urine from your kidneys to your bladder. The bladder stores urine until it flows out of the body through another tube called the urethra.

Your bladder is designed to store and release urine, but if any part of the urinary system fails, than that is when incontinence can occur.

Do women experience specific kinds of incontinence?

Some incontinence is more common in women than in men. Stress incontinence in particular affects one in every three women, most seen after multiple child births.  As previously mentioned, stress incontinence is the release or leakage of small amounts of urine due to exercise, coughing, sneezing, laughing or pressure put on the bladder.

How is incontinence evaluated in women?

As recommended and discussed, the first step would be to see a doctor, particularly one experienced in incontinence. Urologists are doctors that specialize in the urinary tracts.

Gynecologists and obstetricians are doctors that specialize in the female reproductive tract and childbirth.

There are a few standard procedures your doctor will go through to help diagnose the problem. First they will ask about your symptoms and medical history. Followed by your frequency of loss of bladder control, and how much of it to determine the type of incontinence that you have. Depending on the initial diagnosis there are additional tests and procedures that are not uncommon:

-Bladder stress test: you are asked to cough vigorously as the doctor watches for loss of urine

-Urinalysis and urine culture: your urine is tested for infection, urinary stones, or other causes

-Ultrasound: sound waves create an image of the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and the urethra

-Cystoscopy: the doctor uses a thin tube with a tiny camera to see inside the urethra and bladder

-Urodynamics: a test that measures pressure in the bladder and the flow of urine

Incontinence Frequently Asked Questions For Men

How does the male urinary system work?

Like the female urinary system, the male urinary system also includes your kidneys, two ureters, a bladder, and a urethra. The kidneys purpose is to remove waste from your blood and continually produce urine. The ureters are tube lie structures that are used to move urine from your kidneys to your bladder. The bladder stores urine until it flows out of the body through another tube called the urethra.

Do men get specific kinds of incontinence?

Men are more likely to have overflow incontinence out of all the other types of incontinence. This means that there is more urine created than the bladder can control.  When the bladder fails to contract or release urine, then incontinence happens. In men this is often a result of an enlarged prostate gland, commonly known as a benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).

What are common causes of incontinence in men?

It is imperative that the muscle and nerves work together to hold urine in the bladder and release at the correct time in order for the urinary system to perform normally.

Nerve and neurological problems can occur at any age and can be caused by disease, condition or injury.

-Diabetes in the long run may cause nerve damage and affect bladder control

-Strokes, Parkinson’s disease, and MS all have impact on the brain and the nervous system, so they can cause cognitive problems for emptying the bladder

-Overactive bladder is the condition in which the bladder squeezes at the wrong time causing a leakage. This may be a result of nerve problems or have no clear cause, and also include the following symptoms: Urinary frequency, Urinary urgency, Urge incontinence

-Spinal cord injury may affect bladder emptying by interrupting the nerve signals required for bladder control

How is incontinence diagnosed and evaluated in men?

As recommended, if you notice any loss of bladder control or leakages you should contact your doctor immediately. Your doctor will typically inquire about the following:

-Your medical history, medications you are taking, how much fluid you drink in a day, and if you use caffeine or alcohol

-A digital rectal exam to check for prostate size and condition

-Tingling sensations or feelings of numbness or changes in sensation, muscle tone and reflexes

For Caregivers and Loved Ones

How do I start a conversations with a parent, loved one or patient who is experiencing incontinence?

It is important to remember that is normal to feel uncomfortable discussing incontinence or loss of bladder control, especially with a loved one. Discussing the issues and finding a solution is extremely important and will make both of your lives much easier and more enjoyable.

Tips to help get the conversation started:

-Don’t deny the problem

-Try being empathetic and remember that they may be feeling embarrassed. They are not angry at you, but more at the problem.

-Take a team approach and make it clear that you want to help them find a solution. A simple and easy approach is to bring educational information on incontinence products and symptoms to help start the conversation.

-Establish an open dialogue to encourage your parent r loved one to talk about the severity and how long they have had the issue.

-Discuss incontinence products and the benefits that they provide

For more information that was not covered under incontinence frequently asked questions or for the best products for your specific needs, please call us or email us.

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