Urinary incontinence might be more common than you think as 1 in 3 women develop it after giving birth and 1 in 10 men are afflicted with this condition at some point during their adult lives. This number may seem shocking, but incontinence self-care allows a majority of adults to discreetly manage this condition without it having to take over.
When it comes to urinary incontinence, you’re not alone. Many adults suffering from frequent urination, failure to make it to a restroom, sudden strong urges, and more have helped paved the way towards effective incontinence control.
The Incontinence Self Care Guide
1. See A Doctor
Even though you might want to keep anything related to your bowel movements private, the first step towards relief involves seeing a doctor. Based on your symptoms and after running a few physical exams, they will be able to determine the type and severity of incontinence you have.
The common types of incontinence are:
Stress Incontinence – The unintentional loss of urine due to physical activities or movements such as coughing, sneezing, lifting heavy objects, and more because these activities put pressure and stress on your bladder.
Overflow Incontinence – The involuntary release of urine due to an overfilled bladder. Oftentimes there is no urge to urinate.
Functional Incontinence – The patient is fully aware of the need to urinate, but due to physical or mental reasons, they are unable to make it to a restroom in time. This can result in a small leakage or full voiding of the bladder.
Urge Incontinence – Occurs when there is a sudden urge to urinate due to the bladder contracting when it shouldn’t, resulting in leakage through the sphincter muscles that hold the bladder closed.
Once your doctor knows which type of incontinence you have, they can develop a treatment and management plan. While sometimes incontinence can be cured with surgery or exercises to help strengthen your pelvic muscles, sometimes symptoms can only be managed with daily medication and incontinence products.
2. Keep A Bladder Diary
Get a notebook or phone app and take notes about your bowel movements. You’re going to fully invade your bladder’s privacy to fully understand your symptoms for incontinence self care. These notes will be very helpful for managing incontinence on a daily basis and to help your doctor determine a treatment plan.
Take note of all of the fluids your drink, including the type and amount as well as what you eat and how much. Also, include how many times you urinate and the amount from small, medium, or large. Include if there’s any leakage or if you felt the urge to urinate or not. It also helps to include what you were doing at the time, such as running, working, or laughing.
This will allow you to draw connections between triggers and symptoms so you can eliminate certain items for relief. For example, if you find a correlation between coffee and accidents maybe you’ll know not to have a cup before a meeting or to only have one cup per morning instead of three. Also, spicy foods and alcohol are common triggers, so if you find that they affect you, you’ll know to avoid them before important events.
3. Control Your Bladder Behavior
Based on your bladder diary, you might be able to recognize your bladder’s normal routine and can take advantage of it. Instead of waiting for the urge to urinate go to the restroom based on your schedule. Time bathroom breaks to be 1 ½ to 2 hours apart depending on your needs.
Try to fully empty your bladder by double voiding each trip. After urinating the first time, wait a few minutes and try to go again.
Use the force to control your bladder with a little training. Practice delaying urination once the urge strikes. Start small by trying to hold off for 10 minutes every time you feel the need to go and gradually expand the amount of time between bathroom breaks over time.
4. Perform Pelvic Muscle Exercises
While losing weight and making healthier lifestyle changes can reduce pressure on the bladder, there are actual pelvic exercises used to target the muscles that control urination. They have proven to be extremely helpful for incontinence self care.
It might be time to work on a few Kegel exercises, which are actually for both men and women because they help strengthen pelvic floor muscles to support proper bladder and bowel movements.
Find your Kegels by tightening the muscles needed to hold urination or bowel movements and then hold them tight for 3 to 5 seconds before releasing them. Over time you’ll want to increase the amount of time you tighten your Kegels to 10 seconds. Focus on only the pelvic muscles, do not include your abs, thighs, or glutes. Also, remember to breathe during this exercise. Three sets of 10 per day should help you quickly build strength. These can be done while standing, sitting, or laying down.
You can also sit upright in a chair and hold a ball or firm pillow between your thighs. Squeeze the ball for 10 seconds and try to get about 10 reps in. For an added challenge, perform this exercise with your back against the chair.
In the same chair, you can pull your abdominals towards your back as you arch forward in a C position with your arms extended towards your toes. Then straighten your back and focus on proper posture. Do 3 sets of 10.
5. Don’t Overspend on Incontinence Supplies
You’ve probably noticed that buying catheters, adult pull ups, protective pads and more can be expensive. Especially when you may need enough supplies to last for months. However, forget the embarrassment of heading down the diaper aisle at your local department store because your incontinence items may be covered by insurance.
All you have to do is fill out our qualification form to discover your options and we’ll take care of the rest. We will contact your doctor and insurance provider to make sure your supplies needed for incontinence self care are shipped directly to your home in discreet packaging on a regular basis. We will also check in on every month to see if you need to make any supply adjustments.
Information provided on the Aeroflow Urology blog is not intended as a substitute to medical advice or care. Aeroflow recommends consulting your healthcare provider if you are experiencing medical issues relating to incontinence.