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Urinary incontinence: Choosing the right absorbent product

Published on February 12, 2015 at 10:15 / Updated on May 8, 2018 at 20:52

There are many absorbent products available for people with urinary incontinence, whether the problem is temporary, chronic, mild or severe. Here are some tips to help you choose the right product.

Minor or major leaks?

In order to choose the right product, you must first know how much absorption you need. Persons with significant urinary incontinence will need a much more absorbent product than people who only have small leaks of just a few drops.

Choosing the right product

If you only have small leaks, absorbent pads are usually a good choice. In terms of shape and size, these pads are similar to the sanitary napkins used for menstruation, but they contain an absorbent product designed specifically for urine. They are easy to apply and can be changed as needed during the day.

For more significant incontinence, absorbent undergarments are a better choice. Various types are available. For example, some are slipped on just like underwear, whereas adjustable types open on the side and can therefore be changed without having to get completely undressed.

Unisex or gender-specific products

While unisex products are available, and they are suitable for both men and women, many companies also offer products designed specifically for women or men. These products are tailored to the gender’s specific anatomy and feature more appropriate sizing.

Using the product properly

In order to avoid skin problems caused by extended contact with humidity, it’s important to change your absorbent product regularly, especially if you experience heavy leakage.

If you have frequent or abundant leaks, it may be preferable to select an adjustable undergarment-type product that is easier to adjust and remove.

When men use absorbent pads, it is recommended that they use them with briefs rather than boxers, in order to keep the product closer to the body. It’s also important to place the product correctly in your underwear: men should wear it closer to the front, while women should wear it in the middle.

It can be useful to have more than one type of product on hand in order to adapt to different situations (e.g. adjustable undergarments for overnight use, and a less absorbent product for daytime use or more discreet absorbent undergarments for outings). It is also a good idea to keep extra products and a change of clothes at work or in the car.

Disposable vs. reusable

Various companies now offer reusable absorbent undergarments. The advantage of these products is that they cost less in the long-term, while being less harmful to the environment. However, their durability and absorbency can vary greatly from one product to another.

A few tips

  • Don’t wait to have a full bladder before going to the bathroom. The risk of a leak is much lower when the bladder isn’t full. Some people may find that voiding at regular intervals (e.g. every 2 to 3 hours) can significantly reduce the risk of leaking.
  • While it is recommended not to drink too much in order to reduce the risk of leaks, it’s also important to remain hydrated throughout the day. Not drinking enough fluids, especially on a hot day or when physically active, can lead to dehydration. This in turn can cause dizziness and confusion, both of which can increase the risk of falls. Additionally, not drinking enough fluids causes the urine to be more concentrated, making it more irritating to the bladder and potentially triggering sudden urges to urinate.
  • Avoid beverages that contain alcohol or caffeine, and herbal teas with diuretic properties, because these beverages all increase urine production.
  • There are exercises that women can do to strengthen the muscles surrounding the bladder. The exercises are simple and very effective. Ask your pharmacist or physician to explain them to you, or do an Internet search for “Kegel exercises.”
  • If your leaks are mainly related to mobility problems (difficulty getting around), make sure that the path to the washroom is clear of any obstacles. Having to navigate around various objects can make the difference between getting to the toilet in time and having an accident.
  • For persons who are overweight, losing some weight can help reduce leaks by reducing the pressure on the bladder.

Need help choosing the right absorbent product? Questions on how to treat urinary incontinence? Don’t hesitate to speak to your pharmacist!

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