Living with urinary incontinence can sometimes be a tough road for yourself or a loved one suffering from it. Here are seven tips for making the journey easier and happier for all concerned.
- Get the facts. Don’t be among the many sufferers of urinary incontinence who don’t consult with their doctor about the problem. Tomas L. Griebling, a urologist with the University of Kansas, Kansas City, estimates that 50 percent of people suffering from incontinence fail to report their condition to their doctor. This is a mistake, because a good doctor will be in the best position to identify the exact type of incontinence that is being experienced and the exact kind of therapy plan that is needed. So, be straight up and specific with your all-important medical ally before doing anything else.
- Address the immediate issue. Protective underwear is widely available and affordable and will serve as your shield and first line of defense against embarrassment and worry as you deal with the issue going forward. There are many types of protective underwear, from moisture-absorbing, washable panties and briefs, to waterproof, unisex cover-ups. There are also many protection options for protecting beds and sitting surfaces.
- Simplify access to the bathroom. Is the path to the bathroom in your living space easy to navigate? Every moment counts with incontinence – especially “urge incontinence” (involuntary urine loss following a sudden, urgent need to urinate). Take a deep breath and spend some time analyzing how you – or your loved one – navigates to and from the bathroom. There might be a way to shift furnishings around that can make passage to and from the bathroom easier. Mark the access route with visual waypoint indicators so that journeys are easier at night.
- Get organized. Your doctor will likely advise to start keeping careful track of your fluid intake. Certain drinks – especially those with caffeine and alcohol — aren’t helpful and you should, at the very least, know at the outset how much is being consumed. Other changes in lifestyle and diet can be beneficial to incontinence sufferers. There’s an old business that applies directly to incontinence: “if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” Obtain a notebook, set it in a work area and get ready to take closer note of your habits: the data will develop and, as a result, will guide your therapy plan going forward. For computer users, Excel or Google Sheets and/or a calendar program will make keeping track of things easy.
- Limit physical stress. If you suffer from stress incontinence (caused by physical activity pressuring or stressing the bladder), you can make things better if you can avoid certain physical motions – for example, lifting, laughing and coughing – that put a lot of stress on your bladder. Delegate lifting tasks to others if possible. Be aware of emotional situations in which you might laugh, cough or take other actions that might precipitate an incident, and consider limiting them.
- Investigate exercise options. Kegel exercises [Link to blog 5 Exercises to Strengthen Your Pelvic Floor Muscle] — also known as pelvic floor muscle training (PFMT) – can be helpful for many suffering from incontinence. Named after Dr. Arnold Kegel, who discovered the technique in 1948 and published a paper with his findings in 1951, Kegels [Link to blog When and Where to Do Your Kegels] have consistently proven to be helpful in terms of alleviating – and sometimes eliminating – the problem of urinary incontinence in both women and men.
- Don’t run out of supplies. It’s always comforting to know that any needed supplies – for example, those that prevent odor as well as damage to furniture and carpets – are on hand. If the storage room in your apartment or home is too tight to accommodate a large shipment of supplies, arrange for your supplier to make deliveries of smaller batches at regular intervals. Having enough incontinence supplies on hand will help ease your mind and make it easier to do what’s important: enjoy life!
NOTE: This article was not written by a medical professional and is not intended to substitute the guidance of a physician. It includes facts and data collected from various reliable medical and health sources.