Dealing with an overactive bladder is never fun, but when you’re in the workplace, managing “gotta go now” moments—not to mention the use of incontinence aids—can be especially frustrating. Whether you’re constantly fighting the urge to run to the restroom or worried about an episode on a Zoom call, the following tips will help you take control of your bladder rather than letting your bladder control you.
11 Tips For Managing Incontinence In The Workplace
Start timing your voids.
Even people who don’t use adult diapers or booster pads often wait until their bladders feel full before heading to the bathroom. Unfortunately, when it reaches this point, the chances of an accident increase significantly. Many urologists and incontinence experts recommend practicing what’s known as “timed voiding.” Timed voiding is simply scheduling your bathroom breaks based on the clock rather than on your urge to go. Instead of waiting until you feel the need to go after three or four hours, visit the bathroom every two hours, whether you have to go or not.
Avoid the coffee pot (and the water cooler).
In many cases, urinary incontinence is more a result of what you’re drinking than how much you’re drinking. Beverages that contain alcohol and caffeine are considered diuretics and often cause irritation in the bladder. Any person living with urinary incontinence should consider avoiding those drinks, as well as carbonated beverages, oranges, lemons, and other citric fruits, cranberries, and tomatoes.
While you definitely still want to stay hydrated, limit trips to the office watering hole right before meetings. We’re not encouraging you to skip liquids altogether—just find a healthy balance. Keep in mind that not drinking enough can be problematic as well. When your body doesn’t have enough water, your urine will naturally become more concentrated, which in turn can cause bladder irritation and increased urgency. The key is finding a healthy balance.
Opt for whole grains during your lunch break.
When your bowels aren’t functioning properly and you feel bloated or are constipated, it can put pressure on your bladder, causing you to have to go to the bathroom more frequently. Foods that are rich in whole grains – such as brown rice and whole grain breads, pastas, and cereals – are also high in fiber, which helps keep your bowels healthy and functioning well, thereby indirectly reducing bladder symptoms.
And skip dessert.
Sugar has a tendency to cause increased growth in bacteria within the body, which can lead to infections of the urinary tract and bladder. Unfortunately, substitution isn’t even an option, since artificial sweeteners are believed to be just as bad. If you’re struggling with an overactive bladder and urinary incontinence issues, try cutting out sweets and see if you notice any improvement.
Dress for success.
Darker clothing can help disguise small accidents and loose slacks or dresses can help camouflage an incontinence product, so dress in a way that will keep your condition under wraps. If you work in an office, it can also be helpful to keep a change of clothes on hand, just in case. Just try to keep your backup outfit similar to the one you’re currently wearing so it’s not obvious if you do have to change.
Get in touch with dear diary.
It’s hard to efficiently treat and manage incontinence if you don’t know what’s causing the problem in the first place. Plenty of factors could be at play, such as an overactive bladder, a urinary system disorder, stress, or even something neurological.
Keeping track of your bladder activities and fluid intake during the workday can help a doctor pinpoint, correlate, or narrow the source of the incontinence problem. Keep a daily record of your urinary activities, the time and amount of all liquids ingested, the physical activities you engaged in during the day, and anything else you can directly associate with an incontinence accident.
Take inventory of your meds.
Certain medications, such as those used to treat high blood pressure and depression, can cause or worsen urinary incontinence. If you’re taking any medications – either prescribed or over-the-counter – it’s a good idea to discuss them with your doctor at your next visit. He or she can review the side effects and determine whether a change in dosage or type of medicine might help reduce or resolve an incontinence problem.
Assess your weight and level of activity.
Staying fit while working at a desk is tough. Really tough. You may not realize how much of an impact your weight has on bladder control issues, but research has shown that obesity is often directly linked to incontinence. Why? Excess weight adds pressure to your abdomen, which indirectly adds pressure to your bladder. Some studies have found that women who lose 10% of their total body mass can potentially reduce their risk of urinary accidents by up to 50%.
We know that fitting exercise in during a busy workday can feel nearly impossible, but the overall health benefits of exercise make schedule-juggling well worth the efforts. While some activities might exacerbate the problem, that doesn’t mean you can’t try other activities. For instance, if running causes bladder leakage, switch to something that’s lower impact, like biking. Or keep running but use bladder control pads.
Take advantage of the products on the market.
It may feel like you’re the only one who suffers from incontinence, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Millions of people in the U.S. live with overactive bladder conditions. It’s no surprise, then, that there are plenty of products on the market today, ranging from bladder control pads to overnight diapers for adults, that are designed to make managing incontinence at work easy and convenient. Try a few out and see which solution works best for you. While shopping, keep these tips in mind so you don’t fall prey to the five common mistakes people make when shopping for adult diapers.
Don’t skimp on costs.
If you’re on a tight budget, it can be tempting to go with the cheapest options, but over the course of a workday, cheap products actually tend to end up costing more.
Think about it this way. If you have eight voids a day, a cheaper product may hold one or two before you need to change, whereas a more expensive product could hold up to ten. If you buy the cheaper product, you’re going to have to use at least four briefs. If you’d chosen the expensive product, you’d only need one. Though that second product had a higher initial price tag, you’ll use fewer of them, saving you money in the long run.
Consider confiding in your boss.
If your bladder issues at work are becoming noticeable, you may want to give your boss a heads-up about the situation to stay ahead of the problem and avoid an even more uncomfortable conversation down the road. Let your boss know that you’re actively working to manage your condition and explain what that means (e.g. having to leave your desk to go to the bathroom every hour or two).
With everything else on your plate at work, the last thing you need to do is worry about bladder control issues. By taking the steps above, you can proactively manage your symptoms and prepare for the unexpected like a pro.
Carewell is a Charlotte-based, family-led e-commerce company with a mission to improve the lives of caregivers and their loved ones. Carewell’s story began in 2015, when its founders were among the 20% of Americans who act as informal caregivers. They were unable to find the guidance and selection they needed in one place, so they formed Carewell to be a source of support for independent caregivers seeking proactive service, compelling content, and expert-vetted products. To learn more, visit www.carewell.com.