Incontinence is a medical condition that can normally be cured and can always be treated. Find out the best incontinence treatment for you with help from Depend.
Almost 80% of incontinence cases can be treated so there is no reason why you shouldn’t explore the treatment options out there. Some sufferers are too scared or embarrassed to seek treatment, but did you know that over 200 million people suffer some form of incontinence worldwide?
Generally, the type of incontinence (stress, overflow or urge) will dictate what kind of incontinence treatment you should use. In many cases, a team of health care professionals including your doctor, nurse or health practitioner will work with you to diagnose and offer treatment options. Together, you will choose the appropriate course of action. Remember, the first step is always to see your health professional.
Generally, when treating incontinence it is best to start with behavioural modifications as these can often have a big impact on your incontinence without needing to turn your life upside-down. If you find that bladder training or pelvic floor exercises are not effective then chat to your doctor about medications or surgery for very severe cases.
Incontinence treatment by behavioural modifications
• Lifestyle changes: There are certain things you can change in your everyday routine to reduce the severity of the incontinence you may be suffering. Some of the changes you can make are:
- Cutting down on coffee, tea, chocolates, soft drinks and alcohol. All these drinks are diuretics, which mean that they make you produce more urine than normal and make you more susceptible to bouts of incontinence
- Constipation can also put extra pressure on your bladder and pelvic floor muscles so make sure you have plenty of fresh fruit, veggies and fibre in your diet. These will help your digestive system work better and help you avoid constipation
- It’s best to drink about 2 litres of water a day (although try to cut down as bedtime approaches). If you drink too little water your urine may become concentrated and act as an irritant to your bladder
- Being overweight can put added pressure on your urinary system and this will increase the amount of incontinence you may suffer. This is especially important if your BMI (body mass index) is above 25. Lead a healthy lifestyle and eat the right foods to help improve your health and your incontinence.
• Bladder training: This method of incontinence treatment is particularly effective in treating urge incontinence. Bladder training is when you delay going to the bathroom after feeling the urge to urinate. For example, at the start of training try to delay going to the bathroom by 10 minutes every time you feel the urge. The next day delay the visit to the toilet by 15 minutes and so on and so on. Most health resources recommend visiting the bathroom about every 2-4 hours.
• Pelvic floor exercises: These exercises are proven to help reduce the incidence of stress incontinence by almost 50%. They strengthen and tone the pelvic floor muscles and can also assist in curbing urge incontinence too. To perform pelvic floor exercises, contract the muscles that you would use to stop the flow of urine. Hold the contraction for three seconds and then relax. It is recommended to do this eight to 10 times, at least three times a week. For a more detailed look into how to perform these exercises, visit the Poise site which has great videos on pelvic floor muscle exercises.
• Scheduled bathroom trips: This is when you go to the toilet at specific times and according to a schedule, as opposed to when the urge strikes you. It’s normally about every 2 hours or so but chat with your doctor to work out a routine that is best for you.
• Incontinence aids: Using incontinence aids or products can help manage the symptoms of incontinence. Incontinence aids make suffering from incontinence less life-changing as you can still partake in daily life without needing to be chained to a toilet. Incontinence aids usually come in the form of super absorbent undergarments, pants or guards, which lock in any moisture and turn it into gel to prevent leaking or dampness. Depend has a great range of incontinence aids For Him and For Her to help you manage any kind of incontinence.
Medications for incontinence treatment
Medications are a fairly new way to treat incontinence. They are generally used to treat urge or stress incontinence. Medications are not recommended as the first-line treatment for incontinence and should only be used if other behavioural therapies haven’t worked. The following medications can be used to treat urge incontinence:
• Oxybutynin Winthrop
These urge incontinence treatment drugs generally relax the bladder to prevent spasms and involuntary contractions.
The following medications are used to treat stress incontinence:
• Alpha-adrenergic agonists
• Estrogen replacement therapy (generally only used by post-menopausal women)
• Duloxetine (originally an anti-depressant but now also used to treat stress incontinence)
These stress incontinence treatment drugs cause the connection between the bladder and the urethra (the urinary sphincter) to tighten and thereby reduce urine leakage.
Surgery as an incontinence treatment
There are over 150 surgical procedures that can be performed to treat incontinence. Most of these surgeries concentrate on restoring the bladder neck and urethra to their optimum positions within the urinary system. Stress incontinence is the variety most often corrected by surgery. It’s normally the option most sufferers turn to when all other therapies have failed. Deciding whether to have surgery depends on many factors including your type of incontinence, its severity, its frequency and what kind of anatomical irregularities have been found. When choosing a surgeon you should look for a doctor with a history of many successful incontinence surgeries.
Whatever incontinence treatment option you decide on, it’s best to fully understand all the options available to you, their pros and cons and any possible side effects you may experience with your preferred treatment. Once you have done this, in consultation with your doctor, you can make the best possible choice about the best incontinence treatment for you.
Keep a close eye on your diet
Make sure you drink enough fluids – at least 6 1/2 cups per day. If you don’t get enough daily fluid intake this can actually worsen incontinence or lead to serious illness.
Be careful with your weight
Losing and keeping off even a few kilos can make a difference.
A positive attitude is important
Try to keep active as much as you can. Stay involved with family and friends so you’ll feel good about yourself.
Take care when choosing absorbent products
Make your product selection based on the level of absorbency you need.