If you have started having bladder control problems (urinary incontinence), such as leaking urine, you may be wondering what to do next. You may also be wondering if it's just something you have to put up with as you get older, what is causing this problem, or what you can do to manage it.
First, let's put aside your concern: urinary incontinence is not a normal part of aging. Incontinence is not a disease, but it is a symptom of a medical condition. Depending on what is causing the bladder problem, incontinence may be temporary (such as resulting from constipation or urinary tract infection or taking certain medications) or ongoing (such as resulting from an overactive bladder muscle, weak pelvic floor muscles, or certain disease such as multiple sclerosis or a stroke). Learn more about the causes of incontinence here. Your doctor can help you figure out what is causing your incontinence.
Second, incontinence can be effectively treated and managed, and in some cases even cured. Incontinence can be managed in many ways, including using absorbent products, behavioural treatments, medical devices, medications, and surgery. Often, a combination of management techniques is used by people with incontinence.
Using absorbent products is a discreet way you for you to start managing incontinence. Absorbent products, such as guards, pads, briefs, and underwear, are designed to trap and hold urine, providing a physical barrier against urine leakage. They are a great way to give you a sense of security so that you can continue doing the things you enjoy, leading an active and social life. There are many products to choose from and many factors to consider. For example, if you live a very physically active lifestyle, you'll probably need a different absorbent product than someone who lives a sedentary lifestyle. Find out more about how to choose an absorbent product here (for women) or here (for men). You may also want to check out Depend® (www.ca.depend.com) for more information on absorbent products and for coupons.
Often, a combination of management techniques is used by people with incontinence. In addition to using absorbent products, your doctor may recommend behavioural treatment. This includes losing weight, drinking appropriate amounts of fluids, avoiding certain foods and drinks, and Kegel exercises (exercises that strengthen the urinary sphincter and pelvic floor muscles). You may also try biofeedback, bladder training, or scheduled trips to the toilet.
Other management options include medical devices, medications, and surgery.