What did you have planned for retirement? Travel? Relaxation? New sports or hobbies? Incontinence can get in the way of all of that. And for older adults, this is a more common problem than you may realize. While the cause of each person’s incontinence could vary greatly, we got some advice from a Banner Health expert to make sure you maintain the control you need.
“At least 20% of our patients over age 50 suffer from urinary urgency,” said Joel Funk, MD, a female pelvic medicine and reconstructive urologist at Banner University Medical Group in Tucson, Arizona. “These problems are very treatable as long as they are brought to the attention of a physician.” Dr. Funk mentioned the important distinction between urge urinary incontinence and stress urinary incontinence, which are treated differently.
Products & Solutions
- Oxytrol patches are applied to the skin and deliver what’s known as an antispasmodic drug, which means that they calm the muscles of your bladder, giving you more control. These are helpful for patients who suffer from urinary urgency and inability to make it to the bathroom in time. Additionally, these are helpful in reducing daytime urinary frequency or getting up at night due to a need to urinate. The downside of these medications are side-effects such as dry mouth and constipation.
- Adult Diapers are a helpful solution for people struggling with incontinence or as a temporary solution as you work to find a treatment. These can be used as overnight protection or during the day. Often times, male patients find using a brief more comfortable and more successful than wearing pads.
- Pads will not be able to hold as much urine as a diaper; however, they can be more discrete and comfortable. They are a fine solution for stress urinary incontinence, as the volume of urine can be less in those cases. These are often called “guards” for men.
- Bed pads, sometimes referred to as “Chux”, can be a simple solution for adults that have intermittent issues with incontinence. Urine will be better contained with a diaper or pad, but a bed pad is a comfortable solution that protects your furniture, just in case. Washable pads are available as a reusable solution.
- Adult wipes are very similar to baby wipes, just a bit larger. They are designed for sensitive areas, with sanitizing agents that won’t irritate skin.
- Waterproof covers are meant to be worn between diaper and pants. They will help to prevent leakage from becoming visible.
While some medicinal treatments can help, such as an Oxytol patch listed above, the most common and effective solutions aren’t purely pharmaceutical.
Strengthen your pelvic floor
The system controlling your continence is a group of muscles, although pelvic floors don’t get the attention at the gym that biceps, shoulders and abs do, these muscles are just as important to your daily life. Most commonly known as Kegel exercises, learning to exercise these muscles can go a long way in improving your control. And even better news – many of these exercises can be done while lying down or sitting in a chair and you won’t even break a sweat.
Adjust your lifestyle
What you eat makes a huge difference in your body’s ability to prevent incontinence. A few small tweaks can go a very long way. Dr. Funk recommended limiting bladder irritants like alcohol, caffeine and spicy foods as well as reducing total fluid volume per day to 40 ounces. The timing of fluid consumption also matters. If a patient suffers from frequent visits to the bathroom at night that disrupts sleep, reducing or eliminating fluids after 6pm is oftentimes very helpful.
Set a timer
Incontinence is most inconvenient when it’s unexpected. Setting a time for every 60 minutes or so will make sure you aren’t pushing your body beyond its limit. Stop by the bathroom before leaving the house in case a toilet isn’t nearby while you are running errands.
It’s estimated that at least 50% of American women will deal with incontinence. Dr. Funk offered some words of comfort. “It is extremely important to be courageous and discuss urinary problems with your physician. Taking the opportunity to discuss this with them will help return some normalcy and control to your life. As a patient once told me after successful treatment for urge incontinence, ‘I run my bladder, my bladder doesn’t run me.’”
Do you know what your urine color says about your health? You may be surprised at what you can learn by understanding this color-coded system.