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Bladder Health Hacks

Those with incontinence know that having it can be a lot of work. Just being prepared takes effort, and having an accident can create a laundry list (literally) of things you have to do.

There are of course many standard things that you do to protect yourself. Wear protection, talk to your doctor, etc. But, like with any condition, people find different ways of coping that may not always seem as obvious to others. We wanted to know what people do on a daily basis that helps them deal with incontinence. So we asked. Here are some of the best tips we heard:

Talk About It

One of the first and best things you can do when you have incontinence is to talk about it. Many people are embarrassed to have incontinence and for that reason try to keep it hidden from friends, family and even their doctor for years. But opening up about your incontinence can really take a load off. You’ll often find that people are supportive you and you may just find the push you need to seek treatment.

Too nervous to talk to someone close to you? Try the NAFC message boards. It’s an anonymous forum filled with supportive people who are experiencing bladder or bowel conditions. It’s a warm and friendly community and can be a great place to connect with others who can share tips with you, or just lend an ear. Sign up for the message boards here.

Some thoughts from our community:

“Talk with others that have incontinence. I have found both support and great tips on products by communicating with individuals on this website the NAFC National Association for Continence.”

“You can keep it all to yourself or share your conditions with others. Family and good friends will be mindful and understand.”

“Have someone you can talk with and give support when you feel overwrought. An SO, relative, friend, support group, or healthcare member.”

“Don't forget to contact others with incontinence, no matter if in "real life" or in forums like NAFC. Sharing knowledge, experience (and don't forget feelings) with others having comparable conditions is one of the biggest sources of accepting yourselves!”

Research Your Condition And Talk To Your Doctor

So many people with incontinence live for years in denial, thinking that if they ignore the problem, it might go away, or at the very least, they won’t have to admit they have the condition. But that’s not a good way to live. Learn as much as you can about your condition and the treatments available. Try behavioral modifications to see if any of them work. Talk to your doctor about your research, and let him or her know if you find something you‘re interested in trying. Again – no one will care more about your health than you, so don’t be a bystander. Get busy and be in the know. Because knowledge really is power.

You also shouldn’t be afraid to change doctors if your doctor isn’t taking your concerns seriously. Most physicians are very helpful when patients come to them with incontinence. But if you feel that you’re being brushed off, it’s time to find a new physician. Incontinence may be common as we age, but it’s not normal, and you should never be told to just live with it. And, if you’re feeling like your treatment plan just isn’t cutting it, talk to your doctor about changing things up. Remember – you are in charge of your own health. Be your own advocate.

Some thoughts from our community:

“I do recommend that you see a medical professional to make sure that you don’t have a more serious condition that needs a separate treatment. Your incontinence could be a side effect of that.”

“Let your doctor know and anyone else who you think might need to know.”

Pay Attention To What You Eat And Drink

It sounds simple, but watching what you eat really can have an effect on your bladder. First, identify your triggers. Keep a bladder diary for a few days and see if you notice any patterns. Do you feel an urgent need every time you have a diet soft drink? Have an accident each morning after your orange juice? You might start to see some trends that correlate to what you eat, indicating that those are foods that are irritating your bladder. Once you identify your problem foods or drinks, try eliminating them and see if it makes a difference.

Some thoughts from our community:

“Be mindful of other things that you do, eat, or drink that add to your condition.”

“Stay hydrated. Water is necessary for your health regardless. I love my coffee and the occasional beer and carbonated beverages. When enjoying these beverages and when I over do it and aggravate my back, I can expect to have a higher level of wetting.”

“Tailor one's hydration to meet your needs. For instance, if concerned about quick access to a bathroom, stop drinking 1-2 hours before. Or consider hydrating in the afternoon/eve knowing you will have greater leakage at night but, your daytime will be less stressful.”

Don’t Be Afraid To Try Lots Of Products Until You Find One That Works

There are so many products on the market, it’s nearly impossible that you won’t eventually find one that works for you. The trick is to think about the 3 F’s: form, fit and function. In other words, figure out what style you like, make sure the fit is good, and think about how and when you will use the product.

Then, try lots of brands and styles until you find one that works best. Many mail order services offer sample packs to make it easier (and less expensive) to try different products and most of them also have consultants on hand to walk you through selecting something that will be right for you.

Some thoughts from our community:

“Saxx underwear at home, Depends pull-ups with pads when going out (to prevent visible leakage).”

“For females urgently needing to pee the female travel urinal has a variety of brands on Amazon. They come with a small carry pouch for when out and about. Because it takes so long to unbuckle, unzip, and turn to sit down, accidentally releasing urine is a problem. Training the mind bladder connection to wait JUST a second, a woman can stand in front of the toilet and pee through a funnel clearly and effectively just as a man would, facing the back of the toilet. Saved a lot of clean up in everything from body to trousers to floor.”

“I’m a side sleeper and I find a cloth bed pad makes it very hard to turn over, as the diaper sticks to the cloth. But putting a couple of disposable bed pads on top of that calms my restlessness and I barely toss and turn. This results in minor leaking on a disposable pad usually just one and not the night washable.”

“For Men: To prevent leakage during the day when the Depends Men's Pads can't keep up, Try the Women's product Poise Night Time Pads, Number 8. I also put them on "backward" so that the big side is in the front. I went from changing the men's pads 10 to 12 times a day to changing pads only 3 times a day and stayed fairly comfortable and mostly dry instantly. Try it you may be surprised.”

“My overactive bladder (OAB) and my Urge incontinence still require that I wear protection such as pads or pull-ups during the day and a diaper at night. This is regardless of my treatments. So take the time to find what products work best for you.”

“Shop products that hold the amount of incontinence you experience. Many varying degrees of capacity are offered in pads, pull-ups, and adult diapers. Don’t go too light. Wet pants and bedding are a pain.”

“Suitable adult absorbent products are available online and discreetly delivered to your pharmacy or at home.”

“Use the product. This can be a tough one at times. Don’t inconvenience yourself and others by making the exit scene every time you have to go. The restroom isn’t always easily available. That’s why you wear the product, right?”

“Find clothing that you’re comfortable wearing along with protection. Consider ease of access to changing your product if necessary.”

“Most product is undetectable under your clothing, even a diaper.”

“I decided to accept my condition and found that by wearing appropriate and high-quality protection (which is, btw, nothing uncomfortable). I can continue living my active and social life in nearly the same way as before and don't have to deal with any negative side effects - which I personally prefer against medical solutions, such as prescriptions, additional medications, and surgical procedures.”

“Create deployable single-use kits (a product, disposal bag, wipes, gloves) that you can store in your daily bag, car(s), and at work. Kits make it easy to grab and quickly sort out accidents. I use non-see-through, reusable, nylon pouches; keeps others from knowing what you carry into the restroom!”

“I had my prostate removed and found the external catheter really works well for men if you have no control.”

“I don't make a big deal out of wearing and using my protection, it simply became a "new normal" for me (and for my understanding and supporting wife). I see no reason to change my behavior of liking coffee or sometimes some beer or wine, I simply adjust the level of protection to that.”

Odor Control

Keeping odors at bay when you have incontinence is important, and there are many ways to do that. Changing regularly, cleaning up any leaks or accidents promptly, and being diligent about hygiene are three steps you can take to ensure you’re managing any unwanted smells. There are also many products that you can use, both for the home, and for yourself, that can help manage odors. 

We also heard some ingenious methods of managing incontinence-related odors from our patient community: 

“For the purpose of odor control, when disposing of a really soaked brief, I put it into a plastic bag of course, but also, wrap the bundle in aluminum foil- especially if the weather is hot and garbage pick-up is several days away. It's an added expense, but the foil is readily available at dollar stores and it really works.”

“Scented dryer sheets in the bottom of both a trash can and diaper pail help with the smell and also help the bags not cling to the can when you try to get it out.”

Stay Positive!

Incontinence can really shake up your confidence. You may feel nervous to go out for fear of having an accident. Or you may be scared that someone will notice you’re wearing absorbent products. But incontinence is a medical condition, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. And since over 25 million people live with incontinence, you likely know someone else who has this problem too. So keep your chin up, get treatment, and get busy living your life. Holding yourself back because of something like incontinence just isn’t worth it.

Some thoughts from our community:

“Having incontinence is more common than many people believe. Among men and women alike and of varying ages; we know that there are millions of us finding ways to accept it and find solutions to manage it. Today the stigma of having a medical condition that causes incontinence has certainly eased up. There are ads, commercials, and even an entire aisle in the stores with shelves full of products that remind us how common it is.”

“Some people are able to find relief with medical solutions, such as prescription medications and surgical procedures. Know that these may help in individual cases. Others may have drips and leaks and even nighttime wetting regardless. So accept who you are, and your condition, and find the solutions that suit you best.”

“My wife and I are in our early 60s and still fairly fit and actively participate in outdoor activities, sports, hunting, and travel, so don’t let your condition stop you from being you.”

“Be accepting of who you are and your incontinence, just as you would be respectful of others. Plenty of support and help out there.”

“First, and most important: accept your condition and make the best out of it. Forget all feelings of shame or embarrassment, you are not the only one with that condition! And - it's a medical condition, not a choice, so there is no reason to hide against those who should know (especially your partner, your doctor...). But - acceptance is the step after seeing a medical professional.”

Do you have some bladder health hacks you use to manage your condition? Share them with us in the comments below!


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