How to Deal With Your Bladder Control | Canadian Continence
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Tips for Dealing with Bladder Control and Leakage Problems

General Tips

"Even though I do my Kegels, I still find I need to wear light pads for protection. I find I get fewer skin problems and less odour if I use proper incontinence pads rather than menstrual ones."

"I have a job where the phone is always ringing and it is difficult for me to get to the washroom. I find that if I make it a priority to go every 3 or 4 hours I get fewer leakage problems."

"I leak quite a bit at night, and it is embarrassing for me and my partner. The regular heavy duty incontinence pads are not really enough to hold it all. I've tried piggybacking one pad inside another, but it doesn't work well and it really is a waste of money. I've found there are special incontinence liners, without a waterproof backing, that are meant for piggybacking inside a regular pad. Together they hold more or less all the leakage."

Bladder Health Tips

You can help reduce bladder leakage by:

  • Avoiding fluids which irritate the bladder (e.g., caffeinated beverages)
  • Keeping your bowels regular
  • Losing weight
  • Keeping yourself fit and mobile
  • Avoiding repeated exposure to high impact physical activities
  • Stopping smoking
  • Asking your doctor whether any of your medications have a negative affect on the bladder - tell her/him about your urine leakage

Bladder Control Tips

  • Do not severely reduce the fluids you drink to avoid going to the bathroom. Reducing the amount of fluid you drink to cope with your urinary problem may actually make your condition worse. Your body needs a certain amount of fluid to work properly (minimum 5-6 cups per day). If you are not drinking this amount, your body will conserve fluid by producing less urine. The urine you do produce may become very concentrated and irritating to the bladder. It will have a dark colour and a strong odour. In addition, a fluid intake that is too low may lead to problems with constipation. This may make your bladder problems worse and bladder health is a large part of keeping dry.
  • Empty your bladder before going to sleep. Have nothing to drink for the 2-3 hours before going to bed. This should help you to avoid frequent trips to the bathroom during the night and help you avoid bedwetting. This may also help if getting to the bathroom on time in the morning is a problem for you.
  • Always empty your bladder completely. Always be sure that you have emptied your bladder completely. At the end of voiding, wait and give an extra push to be sure that all the urine is out.
  • Empty your bladder before and after intercourse.
  • Reduce your caffeine intake. It is best to avoid drinks such as coffee, tea, colas, and cocoa that contain caffeine. Caffeine has a diuretic effect (causes the kidneys to increase the production of urine so that your bladder fills more quickly and you have to urinate more frequently). Caffeine may also irritate the bladder causing more contractions (tightenings), urgency (the feeling of having to rush to get to the bathroom on time) or frequency (a frequent need to urinate). Try drinking decaffeinated beverages. If you must drink beverages with caffeine, then it would be best to reduce the intake to no more than 2 cups a day.
  • Avoid caffeinated beverages in the evening.
  • Drink only moderate volumes of fluid.
  • It is recommended that you drink moderate amounts (5-6 cups) of non-caffeinated, non-carbonated liquids every day. You should cut back on fluids after 6 p.m. if you are waking more than once in the night to urinate. It is best to spread the intake of fluids throughout the day. Taking large amounts (over 8-10 ounces) of fluid at any single time can overwhelm the bladder and make it more difficult to hold the urine.
  • Drink "bladder-friendly" fluids.
  • The fluids that are most friendly to your bladder are water, apple juice and grape juice. Cranberry juice may be effective for people who have repeated bladder infections. One to two glasses per day are recommended. It will not cure an infection but it may help prevent one. Pure cranberry juice with no added sugar is recommended, not cranberry drinks which have very little cranberry content. However, if you experience urgency, cranberry juice may worsen your problem and it should be avoided.
  • Modify what you drink. Alcohol (for example, beer, wine, or hard liquor) can interfere with bladder control. It should be used moderately (one drink per day) or not at all. For some people, avoiding citrus juices or fruits and tomato products may also be helpful.

Travel Tips

Make sure that you have an adequate supply of the products you will need.

If you're only going to be away for a few days, you can easily pack whatever you are going to need in your suitcase. However, if you're planning an extended trip, you may need to plan ahead. Planning will be especially important if you prefer to use a particular brand of product that isn't sold in every drugstore (e.g., some brands high-quality disposable briefs). In that case, you will either need find out where to buy your particular product at your destination or arrange to have a supply of the product shipped to you there. Having products shipped to you at your destination is easy to arrange if you order the product from a supplier over the internet. Most internet suppliers can ship products anywhere in the world. Hotels where you have confirmed reservations will usually agree to accept a shipment on your behalf so that your supply of products will be ready for you when you arrive.

Travel by air

First, be sure to carry with you in your carry-on luggage a sufficient supply of products to last until you reach your destination. Accomplishing this is relatively easy if you carry the maximum amount of carry-on luggage that airlines permit. For a man, maximum carry-on luggage is usually a briefcase that will fit under the seat in front of you and the largest allowable carry-on suitcase that that can be stowed in the overhead luggage compartment. A woman would likely substitute a large handbag for the briefcase. Keep in mind that flights can be delayed and that airlines occasionally lose checked luggage. For that reason, make sure that your carry-on luggage contains essential things such as your toothbrush and your prescription medicines. It's also wise to have with you a complete change of clothes and enough incontinence products to last at least a couple of days in an emergency.

Many people worry that the security people who inspect carry-on luggage will discover their adult diapers or other incontinence products. However, the personal experience of many incontinent people is that, although the security people may examine your incontinence products, they will do so discretely. Remember that they are looking for bombs and other weapons (not your incontinence products) and that they are trained to deal discretely with the things they find in carry-on luggage belonging to people with a wide range of disabilities.

During a flight, it may be possible to change and dispose of a small incontinence pad in an airplane washroom, but the waste disposal facilities in airplane are not adequate for disposing of a full-sized disposable brief. Changing a disposable brief would require you to carry a fresh brief with you to the washroom and then transport the used product back to your seat on the plane. To avoid that necessity, control your fluid intake before and during the flight and make sure that your disposable brief is dry when you board the plane. When travelling by air, you may also want to wear a higher capacity disposable brief than you usually wear.

Travel by Train

Things to consider are basically similar to those involved in air travel. The main difference is that train trips last longer than comparable trips in an airplane. For that reason, you are more likely to need to change your absorbent product during the trip. Fortunately, restrictions on carry-on luggage are much less stringent on trains; and train washrooms are more spacious and contain more spacious disposal facilities than are available on a plane.

Travel by Car

On an extended trip, an important consideration is how often you want to stop. If you need to use the bathroom very frequently to avoid accidents, you may want to wear a high-absorbency disposable brief, put a disposable underpad on the car seat, and get to your destination as quickly as possible. Alternatively, if you have plenty of time and if frequent stops won't place too heavy a burden on your travelling companions, you may want to make the frequent stops that you need to make to avoid accidents. However, mo matter how often you plan to stop, it's wise to wear protection in case of an unexpected delay.

The availability of good restroom facilities along the way will be an important consideration. The restroom facilities in rest stops along the 400-series highways in Ontario and the autoroutes of Quebec are generally clean and offer an adequate amount of privacy for changing and disposing of absorbent incontinence products. In contrast, the restroom facilities at rest stops along U.S. interstate highways often provide inadequate privacy. When travelling on smaller roads, restroom facilities at gasoline stations are unpredictable, but Tim Horton's and Macdonald's restaurants reliably have clean restrooms that usually offer adequate privacy.

Protecting Beds Away From Home

People who experience nocturnal incontinence will want wear sufficient protection to prevent wetting the bed at your destination. This may entail buying a higher absorbency disposable brief than you would usually wear at home. As an added precaution, you may also want to place a disposable underpad under your hips in the bed. As a kindness to the hotel cleaning staff or to the people with whom you are staying, you may want to dispose of used products in a plastic bag that can be tied closed. In a hotel, all you need to do is to leave the bag containing your used products in your room's bathroom. "When I travel I tend to drink too little and get constipated, and that affects my bladder too. I try to drink enough and to spread it over the whole day. I helps the constipation and the bladder problems."

Hygiene Tips

If you use absorbent incontinence products, keeping yourself clean is a necessary to avoid being the source of unpleasant odours and to prevent the development of uncomfortable and potentially dangerous rashes.

Cleaning yourself needs to be a routine part of the process of changing a pad or diaper. Some people recommend washing with soap and water each time you change. However, using soap and water is difficult or impossible when you are not at home. And exposing yourself to too many soap-and-water washings may also cause skin irritation that can lead to a rash.

A good solution for many people is to cleanse the area covered by a pad or diaper with a moist baby wipe at each diaper change and to wash these areas with soap and water only during your daily shower or bath. Incontinence cleansing wipes especially meant for adults are available, but they are essentially the same thing as the baby wipes and cost two or three times as much. A supply of wipes sufficient to last a few days can fit easily into a sealable sandwich bag that you can carry in the briefcase, backpack or purse that you use to carry clean diapers or pads when you're away from home.

Sports Tips

"I'm an avid golfer, and I hadn't been out on the course for a long while because I was concerned about the fact that I needed to wear absorbent protection and I sometimes have a problem with leaks. I was also worried about what kind of pants I should wear to conceal the diaper and hide any leaks that might occur.

I resolved the problem by wearing loose fitting pants over a diaper. Loose jeans, cargo pants, or nylon wind pants work fine; and black or dark navy blue are good colours to minimize the visibility of any external wetness. Of course, the best way to deal with leaks is to prevent them, and the best preventative is a high-quality diaper. To minimize visibility while reducing the chance of leaks, I've found that wearing a pair of stretchy support underwear over the diaper to prevent the diaper from sagging when it's wet works very well. Most drugstores carry only protective underwear or low-quality diapers that may not be absorbent enough to handle your problem for a full 18 holes. Have a look through the Yellow Pages to find home healthcare stores or pharmacies that stock a wide range of incontinent products, and then choose a product with a capacity large enough to provide secure protection for the full time that you will be on the course."

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