Selecting the Right Products

Selecting the Right Products

How to Cope with Incontinence

What You Need to Know About Incontinence to Live Life Fully

You're not alone. One in 20 Americans is incontinent.

Nearly 13 million Americans live with incontinence, yet until recently few people had ever heard of it. 

The most important fact to know about incontinence is that it is a symptom, not a disease. And that means it can be eliminated when the cause is removed, or it can be managed in various ways. In other words, incontinence doesn't have to change the way you feel about yourself or the way you want to live.

Knowing what causes incontinence defines your options.

Incontinence is the inability to completely control the release of urine. Normal urination involves excretory organs, the brain, and the pathways of communication between the two. Any disruption of the brain's "bladder full" signal, or the inability of the excretory organs to act on that signal, can produce incontinence.

Incontinence may be permanent or temporary, depending upon its causes. For example, if a traumatic injury significantly damages the spinal cord and cuts off the brain's signal to the excretory organs, incontinence will be permanent.

Temporary incontinence might be caused by medications such as diuretics. If a diuretic is the cause of incontinence, when no longer taken, the incontinence will disappear.

There are 5 major types of incontinence. The chart on the next page describes the most prevalent types of incontinence

The 5 Major Types of Incontinence

Type Pattern Common Causes
Stress Intermittent, slight leakage of urine. Weakened pelvic or sphincter muscles associated with pregnancy, childbirth, surgery or radiation therapy.
Overflow A continual leakage of urine. The bladder fails to contract, because it cannot release the urine due to an obstruction of the urethra. Causes of this type of incontinence are the side effects of medication, constipation, or an enlarged prostate gland. Prostate gland enlargements occur more frequently in older men.
Urge A sudden, involuntary emptying of the bladder. The bladder contracts when it should not. This can be caused by urinary tract infection or by brain damage typical of stroke.
Functional Usually associated with strong emotional states, psychiatric problems, poor mobility or physical barriers in the environment that prevent a person from reaching the toilet in time. No physical disorder in the excretory system; however, psychiatric/emotional problems or the physical inability to toilet prevent normal continence.
Total A constant loss of urine. Neurological disorder causes a lack of sensation. Some causes are spinal cord injuries, birth defects, severe trauma and diseases of senility.
There are many causes and treatments for loss of urinary and bowel control. Please consult your health care provider for the options available to you.
Choosing the Right Product

Determine what triggers incontinence before you take action.

Incontinence may be a temporary symptom associated with other problems. Some examples are a debilitating illness or injury that requires long-term bed rest; a drug you are taking; a program of exercise that causes the release of droplets of urine during stress; or a sudden flare-up of kidney stones.

Knowing your own body and analyzing your current lifestyle may indicate remedial actions you can begin immediately. For example, change in the pace of exercise; eliminate "water pills" from your dieting program; read the label or ask your physician if the antihistamine you are taking for allergy relief can be causing incontinence. If incontinence persists, consult your physician and give him/her the benefit of the knowledge you have gained from this article.

Ask your physician how he or she can help.

Among traditional options your physician will consider for dealing with incontinence are surgery, drug therapy, behavior modification and symptom management options such as absorbent products. In all cases, your physician's first thought will be to remove the cause of the incontinence.

In some cases of severe stress incontinence, a physician will prescribe surgery to tighten or provide support for weakened pelvic or sphincter muscles. Overflow incontinence, when caused by an enlarged prostate or tumor, will disappear when the prostate or tumor is removed. Other surgical procedures are performed to correct or strengthen parts of the excretory organs. Your physician will recommend the options that are appropriate for you.

Drugs have also been widely prescribed in the treatment of incontinence. It is important to note that drugs can be added, eliminated, or dosages reduced in an effort to correct an incontinence symptom. The following illustrates effective drug therapy in the treatment of incontinence. A bladder or urinary infection can cause incontinence. When antibiotics are prescribed to clear up the infection, the incontinence disappears. 

A woman past childbearing age might experience a reduction of hormone levels and atrophy of the vaginal tissues, which can contribute to stress incontinence. The preferred drug treatment for this is oral or topical estrogen, which restores hormonal balance and may eliminate incontinence. In some cases, people who take medication for depression can suffer from urge incontinence. A physician may reduce sedatives or hypnotic drugs to increase awareness and eliminate incontinence. 

Help yourself to a better, more rewarding lifestyle.

For many people, behavior modification is the treatment of choice because it is the most natural. For most adults it is simply a matter of adopting new and highly beneficial habits that can enhance the quality of life.

Adults who remain physically active look better and feel better and are more aware of their bodies. They notice small changes in their physical ability to perform certain functions. They also notice physical reactions to foods and drugs. Physical activity also helps you maintain your proper weight. This is a major benefit, because excess weight increases pressure on the excretory organs and can contribute to incontinence.

A regimen of physical activity in combination with good dietary habits contributes to normal voiding patterns. Drinking the recommended amount of water (at least 8 full glasses per day) and eating sufficient dietary fiber will keep your bodily systems in good working order and will prevent constipation, a major cause of incontinence. Caffeine in all its forms acts as a diuretic. A significant reduction in your consumption of coffee, tea, soda and chocolate will eliminate a potential cause of overflow incontinence, and it will reduce your intake of fat, salt and sugar. This will improve your overall health and well-being.

Try special exercises to deal with stress incontinence. An American gynecologist developed a set of exercises to strengthen the muscles weakened by childbirth. These "Kegel" exercises are designed specifically to strengthen the muscle that controls the flow of urine. Ask your physician about Kegel exercises and how to perform them. These simple exercises can help you restore the muscle strength needed to regain control of your urination process. 

When protective garments are right, Tena® gives you protection you can live with!

Whether your incontinence is temporary or of a longer duration, you will want to keep doing what you love to do and what makes you happy. That means your choice of absorbent products is extremely important. The product you choose should allow you to continue your lifestyle. We recommend Tena, a comfortable and discreet product that gives you the confidence of superior protection. For more specific guidance as to which products are appropriate for various levels of incontinence, please visit our page on choosing the right incontinence products.

The Tena Pad has the patented Security Oval™ which forms a unique bowl shape that can easily absorb the heaviest voids. It hugs the body, creating a gentle, comfortable seal for greater protection. Pads come in three protective levels, plus a Day Light pad for light incontinence and Tena for Men™, a male incontinence pouch. Tena Washable Pants come in two styles: our breathable mesh and our cotton/spandex knit, with the look and feel of regular underwear. With the Tena Pad and Pant System, you can choose an option that meets your needs and maximizes comfort and dignity. And for the ultimate in convenience and protection, Tena Ultra Briefs are completely disposable and available in a full range of sizes and absorbencies. 

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