Senior Citizen's Guide digital books
Senior Citizen's Guide to Chicago

Eliminating the Silence
Talking About Incontinence

Incontinence, the loss of bladder control, is a medical condition that affects approximately 25 million Americans. It is “not a normal part of aging” nor is it a disease. The stigma associated with incontinence has caused it to remain a “taboo” condition. The loss of bladder control can be so embarrassing that it isn’t even mentioned to a physician. If bladder control is an issue it is essential to talk to a medical professional. If left untreated incontinence can lead to unnecessary isolation, frustration or loss of independence.

An assessment by a medical professional is the first step in determining the type of incontinence. A physician may make a referral to a urologist who specializes in caring for individuals with urinary conditions for this assessment. Once the type or combination of types is identified as a successful treatment, cure or effective management of the condition can be determined.

There are five common types of incontinence. Stress incontinence is the leakage of a small amount of urine due to sudden pressure on the bladder experienced when laughing, coughing, exercising, or lifting heavy objects. Urge incontinence is a sudden “urge” to urinate that is so strong that the bathroom cannot be reached in time. Overflow incontinence occurs when the bladder fills beyond capacity and urine spills. Reflex is an involuntary urination without any sensation of a full bladder. Functional incontinence can result from a surgery, restricted mobility, environmental barriers, medications, or mental disorders.

Individuals experiencing bladder control issues can lead a quality life filled with dignity and confidence. High performance disposable products offer an effective, convenient, and stress free way to manage incontinence. Today’s superabsorbent technology eliminates embarrassing odors, leakage, and skin breakdown. Absorbent products come in a variety of sizes, styles, and absorbency levels to meet individualized protection needs. Pads worn in underwear, pull-on style protective underwear, undergarments, and full briefs are all designed to address light, moderate or heavy levels of incontinence. Identifying the type of incontinence coupled with the amount of urine flow and mobility level will assist in determining which product is right for you.

It is very important to note that not all absorbent products are created equal. Low performance products comprised of cotton fluff or those manufactured for menstruation are not effective in the management of incontinence. Bladder control products comprised of superabsorbent polymers offer the highest level of performance and will quickly absorb and neutralize urine. High performance products retain large volumes of urine, prevent leakage, control bacterial growth, eliminate odor and improve the quality of life. In addition, they also offer a cost-saving advantage.

If you are interested in learning more about incontinence, there are many professional organizations, web sites, support groups and educational materials to assist.

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