Dealing With Incontinence

Aug 8, 2022

Some health problems are difficult to talk about and even embarrassing. To many a certain health issue can be a sign of "getting old" or a sign of needing more care. Nobody wants to "get old" but it happens, and your pharmacist is always able to help you navigate these difficult problems; because if you deal with the problem is makes life more comfortable and enjoyable. The issue of bladder control, called urinary incontinence, is a perfect example of something nobody wants to deal with or even talk about. But it happens, so it is important to know what is happening so it can be dealt with properly.

The body stores urine in the bladder, then during urination bladder muscles tighten to move urine into a tube called the urethra. At this same time, muscles around the urethra relax and let the urine pass through the body. If these muscles relax without warning, incontinence occurs. Stress incontinence is when urine leaks as pressure is put on the bladder during exercise, coughing, sneezing, lifting or even laughing. Stress incontinence is the most common type of bladder control problem in women, often beginning around the time of menopause.

Urge incontinence is the sudden need to urinate and you do not have time to make it to the washroom and commonly occurs in diabetics and those with Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease. Overflow incontinence happens when small amounts of urine leak from a bladder that is always full. A man can have trouble emptying his bladder if an enlarged prostate is blocking the urethra. Mixed with limited mobility this can cause a lot of accidents.

Incontinence can be short term or long term and happens for a variety of reasons. Short term incontinence can be due to urinary tract infections, vaginal infections, constipation or be caused by certain medications. Chronic incontinence is caused by weak bladder muscles, overactive bladder muscles, damage to nerves which control the bladder or chronic diseases (MS, Parkinson's disease or diabetes). While more common in women; men can suffer from incontinence due to enlarged prostate. If you combine the incontinence with limited mobility due to arthritis, injuries, or chronic pain it can make the incontinence even worse if you cannot make it to the washroom. Functional incontinence occurs in many older people who have normal bladder control. They just have a problem getting to the toilet because of arthritis or other disorders that make it hard to move quickly.

Treatment of incontinence is often possible and the first step to this is seeing a physician. A medical history, physical exam, symptom overview and sometimes bloodwork can help make a diagnosis. Keeping an incontinence record can also help identify times when incontinence is worse. Simple treatments are usually tried first. Pelvic muscle exercises (also known as Kegel exercises) work the muscles that you use to stop urinating. Making these muscles stronger helps you hold urine in your bladder longer. Using timed voiding may help you control your bladder. In timed voiding, you urinate on a set schedule, for example, every hour. You can slowly extend the time between bathroom trips. When timed voiding is combined with pelvic muscle exercises, you may find it easier to control urge and overflow incontinence.

Lifestyle changes will also have a significant impact on incontinence. The most important things you can try are losing weight, quitting smoking, cutting back alcohol consumption and drinking less or cutting out caffeine totally. Preventing constipation and avoiding lifting heavy objects will also have positive effects.

Medications can also be used to control incontinence. Your pharmacist can help answer questions about side effects, potential drug interactions, cost, and the duration of treatment. For some people surgery is an option if recommended by a specialist. For a short-term solution or if medical treatment is unsuccessful, you can try incontinence products.

Adult incontinence products have improved significantly over the past few years. Various products tailored for men and women of all shapes and sizes are now available. For light to moderate urinary incontinence, discreet pads are available for men and women. Traditional tabbed briefs and pull ups are next for those who have increased leakage or want extra protection. The difference is they now fit better and are more absorbing than ever. Your clinic pharmacy also stocks incontinence boxers and other specialized pull ups. For incontinence supplies, it is important to get the right product for you and this means a product with the right absorption and the right fit. You can ask a pharmacy team staff member for advice and even samples of our products we carry to get the right size. For those who have mobility issues a variety of quilted under pads for beds, chairs, and wheelchairs are also available.

he information in this article is intended as a helpful guide only. It is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional advice. If you have any questions about your medications and what is right for you see your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care professional.


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