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Incontinence Stories From Experts & Real People | NAFC BHealth Blog

Log in daily to learn tips about #incontinence, #bladder leakage, overcoming symptoms, and first hand accounts from experts and patients.

 

Filtering by Category: Ask The Expert

Ask The Expert: What's The Difference Between IBS And Crohn's Disease?

Sarah Jenkins

Ask The Expert

Each month, we ask our expert panel to answer one of our reader's questions. To learn more about the NAFC Expert Panel, and how to submit your own question, see below.

Question: What’s the difference between IBS and Crohn’s Disease? Could I have both?

Answer: While both of these conditions seem to have similar symptoms, they are in fact different, and, yes, it is possible for someone to have both at the same time. Here’s a quick breakdown of the two:

Crohn’s Disease is a chronic, inflammatory bowel disease that affects parts of the digestive tract. Symptoms often include diarrhea, a frequent need to move your bowels, stomach pain, and bloating (all symptoms of IBS). However, with Crohn’s disease, patients also may notice things like vomiting, tiredness, weight loss, fever, or even bleeding.  It’s not certain what causes Crohn’s disease, but most experts believe it is an abnormality in the immune system that can trigger the condition. Chron’s disease is also more common in those with a family history of the disease.

IBS (also called “spastic colon”) carries similar symptoms to Crohn’s disease – cue the diarrhea, frequent trips to the bathroom, and stomach pain.  However, treatment for Crohn’s disease and IBS are different so it pays to be examined for both so that you understand what is causing your symptoms and you can treat it appropriately.  Testing for both conditions can be done with a physical exam, blood test, and usually a colonoscopy or other type of endoscopy procedure.

If you experience any symptoms related to IBS or Crohn’s disease, make an appointment with your doctor today to get tested.

Are you an expert in incontinence care? Would you like to join the NAFC expert panel? Have a question you'd like answered? Contact us!

Ask The Expert: What's The Best Adult Absorbent Product On The Market?

Sarah Jenkins

 NAFC Ask The Expert

Each month, we ask our expert panel to answer one of our reader's questions. To learn more about the NAFC Expert Panel, and how to submit your own question, see below.

Question: When I go to the grocery store, I'm faced with a wall of different incontinence products. How do I choose what's right for me? What’s the best adult absorbent product on the market?

Answer:  This is a really tough question, and to be honest, there’s no one answer. Finding an absorbent product that’s right for you takes patients and depends on your specific circumstances.  We always recommend paying attention to what we call the “3 F’s”, Form, Fit, and Function. First and foremost, it’s important to look for a good fit (you don’t want anything too big or too small, as both of those factors can cause leaks). Next, you’ll want to think about function and how you need the product to work for – do you leak during the day or at night? When you do leak, is it just a little bit, or a lot? There are different products for all of these specific problems so you’ll want to consider what you struggle with the most and pay attention to the packaging and description of the products your choosing.  Finally, think about form, which relates directly to your lifestyle. Are you very active? Absorbent briefs or pads may work best. Are you confined to a bed or chair? You may want to look for something easier to remove. 

All of these factors play an important part in choosing an absorbent product that works for you. As for specific brands, there are a lot out there, even beyond what you may find in a big box store.  Do your homework and look online too. Online shopping for absorbents has it’s own benefits, like greater selection, and being able to shop privately in your own home.  Many online retailers also have consultants on hand to help you weed through the massive selection of products based on your needs.

Good luck, and remember to keep trying. It may take a several tries to find “the one” but once you do, the peace of mind to know that you’re protected, and comfortable, will be worth the effort.

Are you an expert in incontinence care? Would you like to join the NAFC expert panel? Have a question you'd like answered? Contact us!

Ask The Expert: Should Men Do Kegels?

Sarah Jenkins

Ask The Expert Mens Kegels

Question: I hear about kegels for women all the time, but what about men? Can kegels benefit men too?

Expert Answer: Absolutely!  Kegels are an important part of a woman’s workout routine to prevent or manage bladder leaks, but they are just as important for men. In men, kegels can help with fecal incontinence, overactive bladder, urinary retention, erectile functioning and even orgasms.  Interested in seeing the benefits for yourself? Here’s how to do them:

How To Do Kegels For Men

There are two types of kegel exercises that you can do to strengthen and tone your pelvic floor muscles.

Long Contractions.  

Long Contractions work on the supportive strength of the muscles. To perform a long kegel contraction, tighten your pelvic muscles and hold for 5 seconds. This may be difficult at first – don’t worry if you can’t hold the contraction for the full five seconds. With practice you’ll be able to work up to this.

Overtime, work your way up to 10 seconds per contraction. Be sure to rest for 10 seconds in between each contraction – knowing how to relax your muscle is as important as the contraction.

Short Contractions.  

Short contractions work the fast twitch muscles that work quickly to stop the flow of urine and prevent leaks. To perform a short contraction, tighten your muscles quickly, then release, and repeat.

When Should I Perform Them?

Like any muscle, you don’t want to do too much too soon. Aim for 5 reps of both short and long contractions, 3x per day on your first day. As you gain more confidence and strength, work your way up to 10 reps, 3x per day of each.

Continue practicing kegels and you should see improvements in 3-6 months. And, if you find that you need some help with kegels, talk to your doctor or physical therapist. They will be able to provide you with more personal instruction, which may include biofeedback therapy.

Good luck!

Ask The Expert: How Do I Avoid Leaks When Visiting Loved Ones?

Sarah Jenkins

AskTheExpert-01.jpg

Each month, we ask our expert panel to answer one of our reader's questions. To learn more about the NAFC Expert Panel, and how to submit your own question, see below.

Question: I suffer from incontinence and will be visiting my daughter for 3 weeks this holiday season. I’m terrified I’ll have an accident at her house. Do you have any precautions I can take to avoid leaks and the accompanying embarrassment?

Answer: This is a common concern and is a great topic to discuss around the holidays. There are many things you can do to avoid leaks, as well as a few things you can have at the ready in case a leak does happen at your loved one’s home.  

As always, preparation is key, and will help give you some peace of mind knowing that you have the proper products in place to prevent leaks. Be sure to bring plenty of supplies with you: absorbent products for day and night, extra changes of clothes (black is a great color choice since it goes with everything and hides leaks well), and extra medication, if you’re on it. After all, when traveling during the winter season, anything is possible and delayed or canceled flights can leave you unprepared – pack extras so that you have enough to last you for a few extra days just in case. If you have trouble at night, bring your own waterproof pad (or two) to protect the bedding. Don’t forget about any other supplies you may need – skin protectants or cleansers, detergents for doing a load of laundry, disposable plastic bags to hold used or wet products, and an odor neutralizing spray to hide any unwanted odors.

An extra bag can help you transport and hide your supplies, as well as serve as a place to store used products or clothes that you can dispose of when convenient for you.  And if you’re a woman, upgrade your purse to a tote bag that can hold extra supplies you may need when you’re out and about.

Finally, the holidays can be a time of indulgence, so watch what you’re eating and drinking. Skip the coffee and alcohol, limit spicy foods and sweets, and avoid any foods that you know irritate your bladder. 

Are you an expert in incontinence care? Would you like to join the NAFC expert panel? Have a question you'd like answered? Contact us!

Ask The Expert: How Do I Keep Myself Odor Free When I Have Incontinence?

Sarah Jenkins

AskTheExpert-01.jpg

Each month, we ask our expert panel to answer one of our reader's questions. To learn more about the NAFC Expert Panel, and how to submit your own question, see below.

Question:  I live with incontinence and am often concerned about others noticing a certain “smell” about me. How do I ensure that my incontinence problem lead to an odor problem?

Expert Answer: Many people with incontinence often worry about this issue. But, it’s an easy one to solve as long as you’re diligent in following a few simple steps.

1.     Change often. If you wear absorbent pads, make sure you change them often to avoid smell. Fit and type of product is also important – a close fitting product will hold odors better than something that fits too loosely, and some products have odor-reducing materials built in, which can help prevent smells. In addition, stool or urine get onto your bedding or clothing, wash them right away, or place them in an airtight container until you are able to wash them to prevent odors from making their way throughout your house. If you’re on the go, pack a disposable plastic ziplock bag to store any soiled clothing due to leaks.

2.     Drink plenty of fluids. While many people with incontinence may try to limit their fluids, you should never do so to the limit that you become dehydrated. Drinking too little fluid throughout the day makes your urine more concentrated, and more likely to smell. The general guidance is 6-8 glasses a day. You’ll know if you’re drinking enough water by the color of your urine – clear urine with almost no color (and hardly any smell) is a good sign your staying hydrated – if your urine is a concentrated yellow, it could be a sign you need to drink a bit more.

3.     Be diligent about hygiene. It’s essential that you wash daily and clean yourself well after any accidents and after each pad or application change with a gentle cleanser.  If your skin becomes irritated, you can use a moisturizer or a protective ointment. The best line of defense against odor is ensuring that skin is kept clean and absorbent products are frequently changed or washed.

Read about more tips to stay clean and odor free! 

Are you an expert in incontinence care? Would you like to join the NAFC expert panel? Have a question you'd like answered? Contact us!

Ask The Expert: What Are The Top Things I Should Consider When Thinking About Placing My Loved One In A Long-Term Care Facility?

Sarah Jenkins

Ask The Expert: Long Term Care

Expert Answer: Placing your loved one in a facility is an extremely difficult decision. There are so many things to think about, but here are three of the top things to consider:  

Quality Of Life.

While it may seem obvious, how your loved one will be treated at the facility you choose is one of the most important things to consider.  Is the staff respectful? Do the residents have some say over how they spend their time? What services and activities are available? Will they have the privacy they desire? Think about your loved one and what is important to them. Will this home provide that?

Quality Of Care.

Of course the main reason that you are looking for a care facility is because your loved one needs the help. It is important to look at all aspects of the care provided at a facility when making your decision. Ask about what their plan of care is and who is in charge of it. Who are the doctors or nurses that will be looking after your loved one? How often are residents checked on and how long do they have to wait if they need assistance.

Cost.

Unfortunately, some care facilities may be ruled out simply because of their costs. Know what you can afford, and look for quality facilities that fall into your price range.

Once you’ve done your research and narrowed down the facilities to ones that seem to fit your criteria, be sure to visit each of them to get a feel for what they are like. After all, this will be your loved one’s new home, and just like shopping for a house, you may feel a special connection toward one that you just can’t see on paper. For a complete list of things to consider when searching for a good long term care facility, read our guide here.

Ask The Expert: My Son Is Four And Still Isn't Fully Potty Trained. When Should I Start Worrying?

Sarah Jenkins

Question: My son is four and still isn’t fully potty trained. When should I start worrying?

Answer: Your question is a common one. As parents, we want the best for our kids, and while there are common ages for certain developmental milestones, it doesn’t mean that every child will follow them to a tee. Four is still young, and it’s common for boys to take a bit longer to learn to use the bathroom regularly without accidents. Even those who are fully potty trained can still experience the occasional accident at four, five and even six. 


Be patient with your child and follow their cue – most children will show signs that they’re ready for potty training (asking questions, wanting to watch, or even sitting on the potty themselves are all great indicators that they are getting curious). Encourage your child - praise them when they make it to the potty, and don’t scold them or act disappointed when they don’t. Once the process has started, know that accidents will still happen, but the majority of kids grow out of this eventually. If your child is in preschool, ask his teachers to help with the process – they may have some new tips to share and many kids often are encouraged to use the potty when they see their friends doing it too.

If you’ve followed our potty training tips, aren’t seeing the results that you’d expect and are still worried, it’s best to consult your child’s pediatrician. There may be a medical reason that is preventing your son from using the potty. The pediatrician will likely ask you lots of questions, and work with you over time until your child is able to master using the potty.

Ask The Expert: How Do I Know If My Bladder Leaks Are Serious Enough To Talk To A Doctor About?

Sarah Jenkins

 Ask The Expert

Each month, we ask our expert panel to answer one of our reader's questions. To learn more about the NAFC Expert Panel, and how to submit your own question, see below.

Question: How do I know if my bladder leaks are serious enough to talk to a doctor about?

Answer: This is a great question, and one that we wish more people would ask. Bladder leaks are a bit like a leaky faucet. Annoying at first, but something that most people ignore for a while. However, given too much time, what started as a small faucet leak can turn into a full-blown problem. The same is true with your bladder. What may start as an annoying occasional problem can get worse over time if left untreated. Many patients wait too long to get treatment, for a variety of reasons – they don’t think their problems is that bad, they are embarrassed to talk about it, they feel like they can manage it on their own. However over time, the condition can worsen and incontinence can truly become a part of daily life, which is something no one wants to deal with.

 

Here are three questions to ask yourself when wondering if you should get treated for bladder leaks:

  1. Is this problem affecting my daily life, even a little?
  2. Does it bother me that I have to make adjustments for my bladder leaks (like always finding the nearest bathroom when you’re out, bringing along a change of clothes just in case, or having the occasional leak.)?
  3. Will I feel upset years from now when I look back on this time, and wish that I had done more to treat this issue?

If you answered YES to any of the above three questions, it’s time to talk to your doctor. Any condition that is keeping you from living your fullest life is one that should be seen to. Don’t wait another minute – with so many treatment options, for bladder leakage there is just no reason to not get help.

Are you an expert in incontinence care? Would you like to join the NAFC expert panel? Have a question you'd like answered? Contact us!

Ask The Expert: Is Urinary Incontinence A Normal Part Of Aging?

Sarah Jenkins

Ask The Expert

Each month, we ask our expert panel to answer one of our reader's questions. To learn more about the NAFC Expert Panel, and how to submit your own question, see below.

Question: Is Urinary Incontinence A Normal Part Of Aging?

Answer: We get this question all the time, and suspect that many people believe this, even though it’s not really true. Here are the facts:

While incontinence should never be considered a normal occurrence, our chances of getting it do increase as we get older. Certain life events (childbirth, for example) can cause the muscles and tissues to weaken, and, over time can result in urinary incontinence. Other conditions can also play a role – neurological conditions such as MS or Parkinson’s Disease, being overweight, or prostate problems in men can all contribute to bladder leakage.

So, in a way, yes, as you get older, you may be more likely to experience urinary incontinence, but it’s typically a symptom of something else. And it most certainly can be treated. Lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise (especially performing moves that increase the strength of the pelvic floor) can do wonders in improving symptoms of incontinence. And, if that doesn’t work, medications, minimally invasive procedures (like Botox injections or InterStim) or even surgery are all options for treating the issue.

The most important thing to take away is that having bladder leakage is not a lost cause. If you live with this symptom, find a doctor and talk about your options. Life’s too short to live with a condition that has so many options for treatment.

Are you an expert in incontinence care? Would you like to join the NAFC expert panel? Have a question you'd like answered? Contact us!

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Ask The Expert: What's The Best Way To Prevent UTI's When You Have A Neurogenic Bladder?

Sarah Jenkins

 UTI's and neurogenic bladder

Question:  What’s the best way to prevent UTI’s when you have a neurogenic bladder?

Answer:  Unfortunately, Urinary Tract Infections are common in patients with neurogenic bladder. Patients with neurogenic bladder often have a harder time completely emptying their bladder. They also are often unable to sense that the bladder is full, resulting in them holding urine for too long.  Some patients also self catheterize, or use indwelling catheters, which can present complications leading to a UTI.

Of course, the best treatment of a UTI is prevention.  Below are 2 simple steps that patients living with neurogenic bladders can take to avoid bladder infections.

  1. Keep things clean. It stands to reason that keeping yourself, and any equipment used to assist with voiding, hygienic can help keep bacteria at bay. Be sure to properly clean your body, and any external catheters after each use. Always wash hands before and after self-catheterizing.  During a short-term infection, change indwelling catheters and be sure that the bladder fully empties to prevent urine from remaining in the bladder for too long.
  2. Develop a voiding schedule. While many things are considered when deciding when to catheterize, including patient and caregiver schedules and urine production, steps should be taken to ensure that the bladder is emptied frequently to prevent infections. Develop a schedule that works for you and stick to it.

UTI’s can cause many complications for people with Neurogenic Bladder, including decreased quality of life and other serious health concerns. If you are experiencing any common signs of a UTI, call your doctor.

Common signs of a UTI:

  • Fever
  • Urinary incontinence/leaking around the catheter
  • Cloudy urine
  • Spasticity
  • Back pain
  • Bladder pain
  • Lethargy
  • Painful or difficult urination
  • Sudden, high blood pressure

ASK THE EXPERT: Do I Really Need To Avoid Sugar And Alcohol If I Have Incontinence?

Sarah Jenkins

Ask The Expert Sugar and Alcohol

Each month, we ask our expert panel to answer one of our reader's questions. To learn more about the NAFC Expert Panel, and how to submit your own question, see below.

Question: It’s the holidays, and it’s hard to avoid all the goodies and treats around me.  Do things like sugar and alcohol really make a difference in my incontinence symptoms?

Answer: While it may not be what you want to hear, the answer is yes.  Let’s start with sugar.  Sugar (even the artificial kind) is a known bladder irritant – especially for those with overactive bladder – and too much of it can keep you running to the bathroom more times than you’d want during the holidays. Not only that, consuming too much sugar causes the kidneys to work harder to flush the sugar out of the blood, which can result in an increase in the amount of urine you’re holding onto – not a good thing if you already have a leakage problem. High blood sugar levels have also been shown to increase the risk of urinary tract infections.

And now alcohol. Alcohol is a diuretic. It increases urine production which can lead to increased frequency and urgency of needing to use the restroom. In addition, alcoholic beverages can stimulate the bladder, which can also lead to incontinence.

In short – both sugar and alcohol should be avoided as much as possible for those with incontinence or overactive bladder. If you do plan to indulge this holiday season, remember that moderation is key. 

Are you an expert in incontinence care? Would you like to join the NAFC expert panel? Contact us!

Ask The Expert: Protective Underwear or Adult Absorbent Briefs - What's The Difference?

Sarah Jenkins

ask the expert - bedwetting

Each month, we ask our expert panel to answer one of our reader's questions. To learn more about the NAFC Expert Panel, and how to submit your own question, see below.

Q: What is the difference between protective underwear (pull-ups) and adult absorbent briefs?

A: In the world of absorbent products, it can be hard to find something that works with your needs.  Most adults who wet the bed use some type of protection, usually protective underwear, or an adult absorbent brief.  

Protective underwear are designed to mimic real underwear, and, unlike absorbent briefs, do not have any tape or velcro siding. Many who prefer this pull-on option like it because of it’s convenience - pull ups are easy to put on or remove, and give users a sense of freedom from the typical brief style.  

Absorbent briefs are similar to protective underwear, but have side tabs that can be adjusted for comfort and fit.  Although they may not be as convenient, many prefer this option since they are able to adjust the side tabs, therefore creating a more custom, snug fit which can prevent leaks.  

Choosing the option that is right for you or your loved one may involve some trial and error, and will depend on your circumstances. Do you wake up often at night to use the restroom? Protective underwear may work best for you due to the ease of pulling them on and off. Do you care for someone who is more bedridden and needs more assistance with getting in and out of bed or changing clothes?  Briefs may be preferred since the tabs make it easier to find a good fit and can be easier for caretakers to change.  

Of course, finding a product that will keep you dry is the biggest goal, and relies heavily on fit (it shouldn’t be too big or too small), absorbency (look for products that are specific to night-time use), and function.  Don’t be afraid to try lots of options until you find something that fits well and is comfortable.