According to the Urology Care Foundation, urinary incontinence, or the accidental loss of urine, is a fairly common condition in the U.S., affecting about 1 in 2 women and 1 in 4 men. Despite how prevalent it is, many people who live with bladder leakage experience embarrassment that affects their quality of life.
If you or a loved one are experiencing urinary incontinence, it’s important to speak with a healthcare provider. Depending on the type of incontinence symptoms you experience, you may benefit from simple lifestyle changes, medications, or pelvic floor exercises to train your bladder. You may also find that the use of discreet bladder control products can help maintain your freedom and mobility. Most Medicaid plans will cover the incontinence supplies needed to manage symptoms effectively for those with a qualifying diagnosis.
Types of Incontinence
There are several types of incontinence, each with its own unique symptoms.
Also known as overactive bladder (OAB), people with urge incontinence will feel a strong impulse to urinate that occurs suddenly, sometimes resulting in urine leaks. Conditions such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and others can contribute to this type of incontinence.
People with overflow incontinence may not experience an urge to go, but still experience leaks caused by a weak bladder muscle or blockage when the bladder becomes too full.
If you sometimes experience urine leaks when sneezing, laughing, lifting heavy objects, or exercising, you may have stress incontinence.
People with functional incontinence typically have a normal bladder and urethra function, but due to a mobility issue or physical or mental impairment, cannot reach the toilet in time to avoid urine leakage.
Mixed incontinence occurs when patients have more than one type of incontinence.
Causes & Conditions
There are a variety of underlying conditions that contribute to bladder leakage. These include, but are not limited to:
- Spinal Cord Injuries
- Overactive Bladder Muscles
- Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia or Enlarged Prostate
- Pregnancy and Childbirth
- A Disability or Mobility Impairment
- Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
- Kidney or Bladder Stones
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Weight Gain
Talking To Your Doctor
After seeing your primary care healthcare provider, they may refer you to a urologist. It’s also common for women to see a gynecologist who has been specially trained in bladder and urinary disorders.
You may be asked questions about whether you experience leakage while laughing or sneezing and how much caffeine or alcohol you drink. Your doctor may ask you to keep a bladder control diary to record the type and amount of fluid you drink, how often you pass urine, the amount of urine you pass, and how many urine leakage episodes you experience.
Based on your medical history and symptoms, your doctor may perform tests to rule out certain conditions that cause incontinence. Based on the results, your doctor will create a treatment plan that is right for you. Urinary incontinence treatment options vary based on the type and severity. They include simple lifestyle changes such as avoiding caffeine and spicy foods, exercising to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, or taking medication.
Adult Incontinence Supplies
There are a wide variety of discreet incontinence products available with different features and levels of absorbency. Adult briefs may work well for some who need an overnight product or one that can handle heavy bladder or bowel leakage. They are also commonly used by people with mobility issues who require a caregiver's help as they are designed for easy application and removal.
Protective underwear, also called incontinence underwear, may work better for those who need a moderate level of absorbency and can be pulled on and off, similar to standard underwear. An incontinence pad, sometimes referred to as a bladder control pad, is an option for those who need a product that is similar to a menstrual pad that can be secured to undergarments but can hold more fluid. There are also absorbent products like underpads or bed pads available to help protect bedding and furniture.
No matter what type of adult incontinence you have, you can remain confident, clean, and, most importantly, in control with the right products.