Traveling With Incontinence

traveling with incontinence

Traveling can be challenging for people of all ages. Finding where you need to go, packing, arriving on time, following directions, and navigating any issues along the way can be stressful and difficult. Traveling with incontinence adds an extra layer of complexity. From packing appropriately, products and extra clothes, to additional stops and locating bathrooms, traveling with incontinence takes added planning, coordination, and consideration of each part of the trip. However, with some useful tips and the right products, adults can continue to explore the world and visit people they loved while managing incontinence!

Traveling takes you out of your typical routine and your comfort zone. For adults with incontinence, finding a routine that balances managing their incontinence condition and living an ordinary life is so important.  When you are traveling and have a new ordinary, you should develop a plan to take control of your experience.

Therefore, we have compiled 6 tips for traveling with incontinence to help you find the travel routine that works for your condition and lifestyle.

6 Tips for Traveling with Incontinence

Move up in Absorbency

When taking a trip in the car or on a plane, you typically are wearing the same product for a longer time period than in your normal, at home routine. A tip for longer trips is to move up in absorbency or find a product with more absorbency. It is common for people with incontinence to have a product for daytime wear and a different product for overnight use, so it’s normal to have a product for regular wear and a product for traveling. In fact, your typical overnight product may be your travel product. Regardless, it is helpful to find a product that provides more protection than your normal, everyday product. You can even consider adding a booster pad to your regular product for a few more hours of protection. Plus, with a booster pad you can quickly change the booster pad without having to change the host garment (diaper or brief), a great tip for quick on the go changes. Using a product with extra absorbency ensures that if you do have an accident or can’t locate a bathroom, you’ll be protected.

Time your Bathroom Trips

When traveling, it is always a good idea to locate bathrooms and plan a set amount of time between trips to the bathroom. This may depend on your condition and fluid intake, but generally planning to go to the bathroom every 2-3 hours is recommended. Timing your voids will help reduce the likelihood of soiling your incontinence product while allowing you to continue drinking an adequate amount of water. On that note, monitor your fluid intake and be sure to continue to drink water. On a long car trip, it may sound tough to stop every 2 hours to go to the bathroom, but you’d rather stop every few hours for 10 minutes than have an accident and spend more time trying to clean everything up!

Absorbent products

Supplies, Supplies, Supplies

Supplies refers to absorbent products, extra clothes, and any other supplies you use (wipes. gloves, creams, etc.). Be sure to bring more than enough supplies so that you feel confident in all possible situations. Bring an extra bag of just additional supplies if you must, it will make you feel more protected just knowing you have it.

Additionally, consider sending additional absorbent products or other supplies to your destination ahead of time. If you’ll be gone for a few weeks or months, it may be easier to ship yourself supplies or place an order online and have the product delivered to your travel location. This will help cut down on the bags you have to carry and transport.

Give Yourself Extra Time

Often during trips and travel people are in a rush and are running late. So, it is helpful to give yourself plenty of time to arrive early to the airport or to the hotel or wherever your travel takes you. This will give you time to locate bathrooms, use the bathroom, find your gate or destination, and extra time for anything else that comes along. How much extra time you need is up to you and your routine but erring on the side of too much extra time is advisable.

Locate Nearby Bathrooms

It’s also important to locate the nearest bathrooms or rest stops along your trip so when you need to go you can quickly stop. If you start to feel the urge to use the bathroom, don’t try to hold it longer than necessary. Get off at the next exit or find the next bathroom in the airport and go. Trying to hold it makes you more likely to have an accident. You can also use our list of apps to help you locate a bathroom!

airplane aisle

Aisle Seats Near the Bathroom or Extra Stops

If you are traveling on a plane, it is helpful to reserve an aisle seat close to the bathroom in case you need to go during the flight. This will make it easier for you to get up without bothering any one and be close to the bathroom in case you get a sudden urge.

If you are taking a car trip, practicing timed voids and stopping every 2-3 hours helps reduce the chance of accidents. It’s much easier to stop for 15-30 minutes to use the bathroom and stretch your legs every few hours than it is to drive for 5 hours but have to change your product, clothes, and potentially clean up a mess in the car. If you’re wearing a maximum absorbency product and feel comfortable riding for 4-5 hours without stopping, you can certainly do that! But to ensure a smooth trip without a mess or changes, regular stops are a good solution.

Never Stop Exploring

Traveling with incontinence can add complexity at any age and any level of incontinence. Long trips take extra planning, considerations, time, and often money. But with the right planning and organization, and using the tips above, you can continue to travel and enjoy time in the places you love. Hopefully you can use these tips and learn your own tricks and tips that work for you as you embark on your travel adventures! Never stop exploring!

Contributed by Tranquility® Incontinence Products – Premium Protection for When Performance Matters Most

An Easy Way To Eat More Vegetables

An Easy Way To Eat More Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are an important part of a balanced diet. But most people don’t get the recommended amount. The US dietary guidelines say you should have 4-5 servings of vegetables and 3-4 servings of fruit each day.  

Still, another study has shown that eating up to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables a day (that’s about 28 ounces) may be effective at preventing the risk of premature death, and staving off things like heart disease, stroke, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. 

And, eating more fruits and veggies has a host of other benefits, ranging from maintaining a healthy weight, getting better sleep, having a strong immune system, and even maintaining a healthy gut.

It may feel hard to get in your daily dose of fruits and vegetables, but even 3-4 servings are better than nothing so do your best. 

Here’s an easy recipe for sneaking more fruits and veggies into your morning routine:

Green Smoothie (serves 2)

(Based off this recipe from Simple Green Smoothies)

  • 2 cups spinach or kale (remove stems if using kale)

  • 2 cups coconut water

  • 1 cup mango

  • 1 cup pineapple

  • 1 – 2 bananas

 

  • Blend your spinach and coconut water together until spinach is fully chopped.

  • Add fruit and blend to combine with the spinach until smooth.

  • Enjoy!

 

A few tips:

  • This recipe is totally customizable, so feel free to switch out the main ingredients as needed. Change up the greens, swap the fruit, sub regular water, milk or almond milk for the coconut water– your options are really endless.

  • Using frozen fruit really helps to make the smoothie nice and icy.

  • You can make your smoothie ahead of time and it should keep for a couple of days in the fridge, or you can chop up your veggies and place then into single serving baggies to quickly dump in the blender when you’re ready making this super quick and easy. 

The Best Incontinence Products For Working Out

The Best Incontinence Products For Working Out

Do you let bladder leaks keep you from working out? It’s estimated that over 20% of women have quit physical activity due to urinary incontinence. This is unfortunate though. Regular exercise should be a part of maintaining good health, and keeping a healthy weight can actually lessen the occurrence of leaks. Plus, working out can also strengthen the core muscles and the pelvic floor, which can provide more control over the bladder.  

So what can you do to protect yourself if you find yourself leaking at the gym? Fortunately there are lots of products on the market that can help you avoid an embarrassing situation.

What to look for in an exercise pad or protection.

Choose a product for incontinence, not menstruation.

It may seem like it would do the job, but pads made for menstruation are much different than absorbent pads made for incontinence. Incontinence pads have a greater level of absorbency, and are typically created with materials that will wick moisture away from your body.  Make sure to use a pad specifically designed for incontinence. (Hint – you can discreetly order these online and no one has to know!)

Make sure the product is breathable.

The last think you want is irritated skin because the product was too tight or kept moisture too close during a tough workout. Read the packaging and product descriptions to make sure you’re choosing one that is breathable.

 

Avoid bulk.

If you’re moving around a lot, you don’t want something that is going to feel bulky getting in the way of your workout. Nor do you want something that will cause chafing. Many of the incontinence products made for working out are very discreet. Try to find one that doesn’t add a lot of bulk to your workout wear.

 

Choose a product that will stay put.

When you workout, you want something that will stay put and not slide around. Look for a product that sticks well to your undergarments.

 

Try a pessary for support.

Leaks during workouts may be fixed simply by providing a little bit of extra support to your bladder. Pessaries are small inserts that are fitted by a doctor and help hold the bladder up a bit, providing additional support.  This may be helpful if you’re doing a lot of higher intensity moves.

 

Other tips to keep you dry:

Reduce fluids prior to working out.

Don’t cut out drinks all together. Your body needs to stay hydrated when exercising. But be mindful of what and how much you’re drinking prior to your workout. Downing 2 or 3 cups of coffee before your morning workout routine may not be the wisest choice. 

Wear dark, lose-fitting clothing.

If you do end up having an accident, darker colors will hide it better than lighter ones.  And, loose fitting shorts and workout pants can help hide absorbent products you may be wearing, and make leaks less noticeable.

 

Try different types of workouts.

If you truly love an activity, you shouldn’t have to give it up. But there’s also no rule that says you have to do a certain type of workout to get in shape. If running is causing you more stress than enjoyment, try something with less impact. High intensity exercises place a lot of pressure on our bladder, and things like running, tennis, or similar exercises that cause repeated downward pressure can weaken the pelvic floor over time. Walking, swimming or biking may be good options to sub in, at least some of the time. (Read our tips on how to start a walking group!)

Got any tips for staying dry while you exercise? Share them with us in the comments below!

Planning A Road Trip This Summer? Check Out These Tips To Keep You Dry!

Planning A Road Trip This Summer? Stay Dry With These Tips.

Traveling when you have incontinence can be scary and intimidating – especially when you know there may be times when you’re not going to be near a toilet. But by planning ahead, you’ll be able to have the road trip of your dreams! 

7 Tips For Planning A Road Trip When You Have Incontinence

Pack Wisely.

Being prepared is half the battle when you have incontinence, and it’s especially important when you’re traveling away from your comfort zone.  Be sure to pack appropriately – what types of protection do you need? If you’ll be in the car for long periods of time without the ability to stop, you may need a product that is slightly more absorbent than you’re used to at home. 

Extra pairs of clothes may feel excessive, but can be a huge relief if you have an accident. If you’ll be staying in hotels, think about overnight protection or items to protect the bedding. And, don’t forget about cleanup supplies. A couple of plastic bags, wipes, or other cleanup supplies can come in handy when you’re on the road.

Bring Extras Of Everything.

Bring more than you think you may need of absorbent protection, clothes, and clean up supplies. It may feel excessive, but you’ll be glad to have them if you need them. Pack an extra bag of supplies so that you have back ups.

Wear Dark Colors.

If you do have an accident, it’s easier to hide it when you’re wearing darker colored pants. Loose and light clothing also may be helpful when trying to hide leaks.

Scout Out Your Route.

You likely know the route you’re taking so plan ahead for bathroom stops. Research the towns you’ll be passing along the way and learn about any rest stops that exist along your route. Knowing that you have scheduled bathroom breaks set up in advance may help to calm your mind (and your bladder!) while you’re on the road.

Talk To Your Doctor Well Beforehand.

You may wish to speak with your doctor about medications that could help you while on your trip. Be sure to do this well in advance as some medications may take some time to start working, so you may need to start taking them a couple of months prior to your trip.

Use Technology To Your Advantage.

There are lots of great bathroom finder apps available that can help you out when you need it.  And, apps like Google maps can help you find stops along your journey, as well as inform you of traffic build ups and alternative routes.

 Pay Attention To What You’re Eating and Drinking.

It goes without saying that you’ll need to watch what you’re eating and drinking. If you know something is likely to irritate your bladder, steer clear from it. And while you should never restrict your fluids too much, it’s probably wise to not gulp down a bunch before you hop in the car. 

Don’t let incontinence keep you from getting out and exploring this summer! Follow these simple steps and you’ll soon be wondering why you don’t road trip every year!

Got any great tips for staying dry while traveling? Share them with us in the comments below!

How Do I Know If I'm Drinking Enough Water?

How Do I Know If I’m Drinking Enough Water? Try Our Simple Trick.

When you live with incontinence, it’s easy to think that limiting your fluids will help you to avoid an uncomfortable bladder leak. And while in some cases that may be true, most of the time, restricting your fluids can have negative consequences, including dehydration and foul smelling urine. It may even cause you to have the problem that you are trying to avoid:  a leaky bladder.

It’s long been recommended that we need to drink 8 glasses of water a day. But really, you should drink to quench your thirst, and try to listen to your body to know the right amount of water intake for you. This can vary for everyone so it’s important to listen to your body and drink when you’re thirsty.

 Keep reading to learn more about how limiting your water intake can harm your health, and a tip for knowing if you’re drinking enough.

How Restricting Your Fluids Can Harm Your Health

  1. Dehydration. It’s a fact of life: our bodies need water to function properly. Without it, you will become dehydrated and may experience symptoms such as headaches, muscle cramps, dizziness, lack of energy, not peeing or having dark yellow pee, irritability, or even fainting. 

    The simple fix? If it’s just mild dehydration you’re suffering from drink some water or clear fluid like broth or Gatorade. 2-3 cups may do the job and having you feeling better within the hour.

  2.  However if you experience severe dehydration, you may need hospitalization and intravenous hydration for up to 24 hours to recover.

    Drinking fewer fluids throughout the day can irritate the bladder, leading to more leaks. Yes – it’s true!  What you are trying to avoid may be exactly the thing you are causing!  When you drink less water, you urine becomes very concentrated and can actually irritate the bladder, which can lead to bladder leaks.

    Concentrated urine can also lead to bladder infections or urinary tract infections, which is something we’d all probably like to avoid.

  3. When you do have leaks, they’ll smell a lot more. Remember how we just said your urine becomes more concentrated when you restrict fluids? That also makes it smell a lot more, meaning if you do leak, you’ll have a harder time covering up unpleasant odors.

How Do I Know If I’m Drinking Enough Water? 

So, what’s the right amount for you?  Here’s an easy tip to tell if your water intake is adequate.

The Skin Pinch Test

Pinch the skin on the back of your hand, then let it go. If you’re fully hydrated, your skin should bounce right back. But if it takes longer for the skin to return to normal, you may be dehydrated.   

So whatever you do, don’t skimp on your water! And if you’re finding it hard to work in the recommended 6-8 glasses a day, try some add-ins, like cucumber, berries, or citrus.  Here are some great ideas to spruce up your H2O.

 

 

Patient Perspective:  How Do I Tell My Wife I Have Incontinence? 

How Do I Tell My Wife I Have Incontinence?

I’ve been incontinent for 1 year now, and my wife has no idea. (At least I don’t think she does).  You see I’ve gone to great lengths to hide it from her.  It’s not like I leak all the time, but a few times a week I find myself unable to make it to the bathroom in time and I have an accident. It horrifies me, since this has never happened before.

My doctor tells me I have an enlarged prostate. This, my wife knows. I’m sure she also knows some of the symptoms, since she’s the type to do research on this stuff. But I haven’t told her I suffer from bladder leaks.

I keep spare underwear hidden in the car.  I limit my fluids when I know we’re going to be out. I always scout out the nearest restroom in case I need to make a beeline to it. I even decline certain events if I think there’s a risk I may have an accident. I feel like I’m living as a secret agent with this condition – always trying to stay 1 step ahead. 

You’re probably wondering why I haven’t told her. Talking with your spouse about something that embarrasses you is never easy. But for me, this is devastating. I’ve always been her “tough guy”. The one who fixes up old cars, goes bowling with the guys on Tuesdays, can handle pretty much anything anyone throws my way. But this is different. It’s made me feel like less of a man. And I feel embarrassed that I can’t control something as simple as my bladder.

I know it’s more complicated than that, but I just can’t help thinking “What will she think of me?”  “Will she still find me attractive?” “Will she think less of me?”

We’ve always been so spontaneous. Running out at a moments notice to meet up with friends at a pub. Jumping on those last minute flights to somewhere tropical. Going to shows and concerts and ball games. I still want to be that person. That guy who does all the fun stuff. But these bladder leaks are getting in the way of that.

I know we’re getting older, but I still just want her to look at me like she always has, and I’m so scared this will change that.

I’m planning to tell her soon. I know that it’s probably better to just get it out there, Knowing my wife, she’ll probably jump right in and try to help. She’s awesome like that.

And, I’m sure her knowing will probably be good for me. We’ll find ways to deal with it together. We’ll find solutions for this condition that I know are out there but I’ve been too stubborn or embarrassed to seek out. It will be better. She will help me make it better.

But the thought of having that conversation with her is still scary as hell.  The telling is really the hardest part of all of this. Wish me luck.

Anonymous

What To Do About An Enlarged Prostate?

What To Do About An Enlarged Prostate

Enlarged prostates are common as you age. Men aged 60 and older have a 50/50 chance of having an enlarged prostate and those who are 85 have a 90% chance. Those may be scary stats, but what exactly does having an enlarged prostate mean? Is it something to worry about? And if so, what are the treatment options? Keep reading to learn more about this very common condition and what it may mean for you.

Anatomy Review – function of the prostate

The main function of the prostate glad is to serve as a reproductive organ. It is responsible for producing prostate fluid, which is one of the main components of semen. The prostate gland muscles also help to transport semen into the urethra during ejaculation.  

The prostate gland sits just below the bladder, where the bladder and urethra (the tube that inside the penis that carries urine and semen out of the body) connect. In early life, it’s about the size and shape of a chestnut, and grows to different sizes throughout a man’s life. 

What causes the prostate to get enlarged?

As men age, the prostate gland grows. It’s estimated than as many as 17 million men have an enlarged prostate, or symptoms of Benign Prostate Hyperplasia (BPH). While it’s unclear why the prostate begins to grow, its thought that an excess of certain hormones may be to blame.

Symptoms of an enlarged prostate include the following:

  • A weak or interrupted urinary stream

  • The sudden urgency to urinate

  • Frequent urination

  • An inability to empty the bladder during urination

  • Trouble initiating urine flow, even when you feel like your bladder is full.

Should I worry? 

Even if your prostate becomes enlarged, it may never become an issue for you. The problems start when the prostate begins to constrict or block the urethra. This can compromise the bladder’s ability to effectively empty, causing chronic retention of urine. And, because the bladder still continues to send signals that it needs to empty, urgency and frequency can occur (this is also known as overactive bladder).  If left for too long, the bladder may become distended, making it even harder for it to empty completely. 

For these reasons, it’s important to see your doctor right away if you start experiencing any of the symptoms listed above. Additionally, the symptoms of an enlarged prostate can also mimic those of other conditions, such as bladder cancer or overactive bladder. Your doctor will be able to help diagnose your condition to determine an appropriate treatment.

What’s the treatment for an enlarged prostate?

There are many treatment options for enlarged prostate, depending on your symptoms.

Active surveillance, or “watchful waiting” is a term used to describe the act of monitoring your condition regularly for any changes. This approach is often used for men whose symptoms are mild and not too bothersome. 

There are several medications that are approved for BPH, but most of them fall into two categories: Alpha blockers and inhibitors. Both are effective at treating BPH and sometimes are even prescribed in combination with each other.  

Non-invasive treatment options include things like laser therapy, which decreases the size of the prostate by removing some of the tissue, or laser vaporization, which enlarges the prostate obstruction and opens the urethra.  Transurethral microwave therapy or transurethral needle ablation are other non-invasive treatment options that destroy excess prostate tissue that is causing blockage.

Finally, surgery is also commonly used to help relieve symptoms of an enlarged prostate. The most common form of surgery is transurethral resection of the prostate, or TURP. This surgery requires no incisions, relying instead on a surgical instrument inserted through the tip of your penis and the urethra. Using this tool, the doctor is able to trim excess prostate tissue that may be preventing the flow of urine. 

Other less common surgeries are also used to both trim excess tissue from the prostate, or to decrease pressure on the urethra in order to make urinating easier. You can read more about additional surgical options here.

Bladder Health Hacks

Bladder Health Hacks

Those with incontinence know that having it can be a lot of work. Just being prepared takes effort, and having an accident can create a laundry list (literally) of things you have to do.

There are of course many standard things that you do to protect yourself. Wear protection, talk to your doctor, etc. But, like with any condition, people find different ways of coping that may not always seem as obvious to others. We wanted to know what people do on a daily basis that helps them deal with incontinence. So we asked. Here are some of the best tips we heard:

Talk about it. 

One of the first and best things you can do when you have incontinence is to talk about it. Many people are embarrassed to have incontinence and for that reason try to keep it hidden from friends, family and even their doctor for years. But opening up about your incontinence can really take a load off. You’ll often find that people are supportive you and you may just find the push you need to seek treatment. Too nervous to talk to someone close to you? Try the NAFC message boards. It’s an anonymous forum filled with supportive people who are experiencing bladder or bowel conditions. It’s a warm and friendly community and can be a great place to connect with others who can share tips with you, or just lend an ear.  Sign up for the message boards here.

Don’t be afraid to change your doctor.

Most physicians are very helpful when patients come to them with incontinence. But if you feel that you’re being brushed off, it’s time to find a new physician. Incontinence may be common as we age, but it’s not normal, and you should never be told to just live with it. And, if you’re feeling like your treatment plan just isn’t cutting it, talk to your doctor about changing things up. Remember – you are in charge of your own health. Be your own advocate.  

Baby powder.

We’ve heard from many people that using baby powder helps to keep moisture at bay when wearing absorbent briefs.  This is a great option to try if you experience a lot of sweating.

Research your condition. 

So many people with incontinence live for years in denial, thinking that if they ignore the problem, it might go away, or at the very least, they won’t have to admit they have the condition. But that’s not a good way to live. Learn as much as you can about your condition and the treatments available. Try behavioral modifications to see if any of them work. Talk to your doctor about your research, and let him or her know if you find something you‘re interested in trying.  Again – no one will care more about your health than you, so don’t be a bystander. Get busy and be in the know. Because knowledge really is power.

Pay attention to what you eat. 

It sounds simple, but watching what you eat really can have an effect on your bladder. First, identify your triggers. Keep a bladder diary for a few days and see if you notice any patterns. Do you feel an urgent need every time you have a diet soft drink? Have an accident each morning after your orange juice? You might start to see some trends that correlate to what you eat, indicating that those are foods that are irritating your bladder. Once you identify your problem foods or drinks, try eliminating them and see if it makes a difference.

Don’t be afraid to try lots of products until you find one that works.

There are so many products on the market, it’s nearly impossible that you won’t eventually find one that works for you. The trick is to think about the 3 F’s: form, fit and function. In other words, figure out what style you like, make sure the fit is good, and think about how and when you will use the product. Then, try lots of brands and styles until you find one that works best. Many mail order services offer sample packs to make it easier (and less expensive) to try different products and most of them also have consultants on hand to walk you through selecting something that will be right for you. 

Be brave.

Incontinence can really shake up your confidence. You may feel nervous to go out for fear of having an accident. Or you may be scared that someone will notice you’re wearing absorbent products. But incontinence is a medical condition, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. And since over 25 million people live with incontinence, you likely know someone else who has this problem too. So keep your chin up, get treatment, and get busy living your life. Holding yourself back because of something like incontinence just isn’t worth it.

Best Foods For Bladder Health

Best Foods For Bladder Health

Do you run to the bathroom after every meal?  Do you ever notice that you always seem to have an accident after eating a specific type of food? It’s no coincidence.  What you eat and drink has a huge effect on your bathroom habits, and if you’re suffering from bladder leakage (or bowel leakage, for that matter), it’s worth your time to start paying more attention to your diet. 

There are many known bladder irritants that may be causing you trouble. 

Below is a list of some of the most common foods that have been known to irritate the bladder:

  • Alcohol

  • Apples

  • Carbonated beverages

  • Chocolate

  • Citrus Juice & Fruits

  • Coffee

  • Corn Syrup

  • Cranberries

  • Spicy Foods

  • Honey

  • Milk

  • Sugar & Artificial Sweeteners

  • Tea

  • Tomatoes

  • Vinegar 

The sugar, caffeine, or acidity in these foods and drinks can irritate the bladder, causing an accidental leakage to occur. If you think one of these foods may be contributing to your bladder leaks, try eliminating it from your diet for a couple of weeks and see what happens. After a while, slowly add it back in and see if the problem reemerges. If so, you know it’s a food or drink you should avoid. 

Everyone is different of course, and not all of the foods listed above will be triggers for everyone. That cup of coffee that causes you to sprint to the ladies room each morning may not have any effect on someone else struggling with bladder leakage. That’s why it’s so important to keep track of what you eat and drink. A bladder diary can be ideal for this task by letting you track what you consume, and also when you have accidents.  Over time, you may start to see a correlation between that tomato sauce you love and your trips to the bathroom.  A bladder diary also comes in handy when talking with your doctor about your condition. It gives them a roadmap of what you’re experiencing and helps them in diagnosing your problem and finding a solution.

Ready to start tracking? Download your free bladder or bowel diary here.

 

Should I Use A Probiotic?

Should You Use A Probiotic?

If you’ve been paying attention to the news at all in the past year or two, you’ve likely noticed an increase in stories about the importance of gut health. The gut, it turns out, is responsible for how your body works –your immunity, your energy levels, your hormone balance, waste elimination, and even how you think can all be affected by an unhealthy gut.  And while there are many factors that affect gut health (stress levels, the amount of shut-eye you get), what you eat plays an important role in ensuring your gut is helping you operate optimally. 

As of late, many health gurus have been touting probiotics as a great way to improve your gut health. And it’s true that the gut needs good probiotics, the “good” bacteria found in some foods and supplements to help it do its job. But how do you get these good bacteria, and are they right for you? 

Most experts agree that a healthy dose of probiotics is a good thing for most people. You can get many probiotics through foods you might be eating already. Fermented foods such as sauerkraut, tempeh and kimchi, yogurt, and beverages like kefir and kombucha, are all great options if you want to eat more probiotic foods. You may also want to consider a probiotic supplement if your diet lacks these food types. 

Experts warn to use a bit of caution when initially consuming foods high in probiotics, as they may cause a bit of irritation in your digestive system as your body gets used to them.  Additionally, many probiotic supplements are not regulated by the FDA, so it’s important to do your research on brands and choose a high-quality product.  As always, talk with your doctor before you start taking a probiotic, as they may not be for everyone. Those with an illness that affects the immune system may not be a good fit, as the probiotics may cause the person to get sick.

Want some more info on this subject? Here’s a great guide on taking probiotics from Harvard Health.

Can Incontinence Be Prevented?

Can Incontinence Be Prevented?

We often talk about incontinence as if it has already happened. In most cases, if you’re visiting this website, it probably has. But there are many things that you can do that can prevent incontinence from starting in the first place. Most of these things may also help you manage, or even eliminate symptoms of incontinence once you’ve already gotten it. Read below for some tips to stop incontinence in its tracks.

5 Tips To Prevent Incontinence

Tip #1: Maintain A Healthy Weight

Carrying around extra weight puts a lot of strain on the pelvic floor, causing the muscles to weaken and lead to leaks. In addition, folks who are overweight generally put extra pressure on their bladder, which can lead to leakage. Maintain a healthy weight by following a healthy diet and making exercise a part of your daily routine. Bonus: incorporating exercise into your day can strengthen your core and pelvic floor muscles, leading to even greater protection from leaks.

Tip #2: Don’t Smoke

Smoking on its own is an ugly habit and harmful to your health in more ways than one. People who smoke can eventually develop a chronic “smokers cough”. This chronic coughing can put a lot of strain on the pelvic floor, causing it to weaken and lead to incontinence. Smoking also irritates the bladder, causing you to need more frequent trips to the bathroom. And, smoking can lead to bladder cancer. Need help kicking the habit? Read these tips.  

Tip #3: Keep Your Pelvic Floor In Shape

The pelvic floor is a basket of muscles that supports the bladder, rectum and the uterus in women, and the bladder, rectum and prostate in men.  These muscles are essential in maintaining control over your bladder and bowel. Keeping the pelvic floor healthy can go a long way in preventing or treating incontinence.  Learn more about the pelvic floor and how you can protect it here. 

Tip #4: See A PT After Childbirth

We just talked about how important the pelvic floor is in maintaining continence. But certain things, like childbirth, can really wreak havoc on the pelvic floor and cause it to weaken. Many women don’t understand the impact that a weakened pelvic floor can have on them, even long after the baby is born.  Seeing a physical therapist specially trained in women’s health soon after childbirth can be very helpful, as they can ensure that you are healing properly and learning how to correctly (and safely) get your pelvic floor back into shape.  If left untreated, a weakened pelvic floor can lead to things like incontinence and even pelvic organ prolapse later in life, so this simple step can go a long way in protecting yourself for the future.  Learn more about how a physical therapist can help you here.

Tip #5: Watch Your Diet

This may seem to echo Tip #1, but even if you are at an ideal weight, if you’re eating foods that irritate your bladder (and if you’re susceptible to incontinence) then you may be setting yourself up for leaks.  There are many common bladder irritants (see a list of some of them here) but they can vary from person to person: what irritates one person may not bother another. If you do experience leaks, pay close attention to your diet and take note of foods that may be triggering leaks.

Your Guide To Treating Incontinence

Your Guide To Treating Incontinence

For many of us, January is a time for setting resolutions – A blank slate where we can rewrite a new reality for ourselves. For those with incontinence, knowing where to start treatment can be one of the biggest challenges.  Luckily, we’re here to help.

Treatment for incontinence has come a long way in recent years.

Here’s a breakdown of steps you can take right now, as well as some more advanced options to look at for the future.

1. Manage incontinence with adult absorbent products.

Managing your incontinence is much different than treating your incontinence, but it is the logical first step. After all, you need to find some way to stay dry until you can properly address the issue. For most people, management will consist of a few things – finding a good absorbent product that works, and watching your food and drink intake to see if there are certain triggers that may make your incontinence worse. Management is a first step, but definitely not the last - while both of these can do wonders in helping you control the symptoms of incontinence, they’re not really addressing the true problem.

2. Behavioral Therapy

Along with diet and exercise, there are several other things you may want to try when treating incontinence. Bladder and bowel retraining – which literally involves training your muscles to hold urine or bowel movements for longer more controlled periods of time – are a good step to try and improvements can often be seen in several weeks.  In addition, many people see vast improvements from physical therapy. A qualified physical therapist (usually specialized in treating the pelvic floor) can give you an examination, pinpoint areas of weakness or tension, and provide a customized treatment plan designed to address your muscle strength or weakness. (Need help finding a PT? Check our Specialist Locator.)

3. Medications.

If behavioral modifications don’t yield the results your looking for, medications may be your next option. Most medications for bladder control work by relaxing the bladder muscles and preventing the spasms that sometimes accompany overactive bladder and incontinence. These work differently for everyone, and can sometimes produce unwanted side effects though, so talk to your doctor about your options before settling on one.

4. Advanced Therapy Options

If medications don’t work for you, or you don’t like the side effects that they present, there are still other options. InterStim and Botox injections are two of the more advanced, yet very effective procedures available.   InterStim, also known as sacral neuromodulation, works by stimulating the nerves that control your bladder, bowel and rectum, and the muscles related to urinary and anal functions (the sacral nerves). InterStim stimulates these nerves with a mild current, which helps your bladder/bowel/rectum work as they should.  Botox, treats overactive bladder symptoms by calming the nerves that trigger the overactive bladder muscle. Both procedures are fairly simple and take about an hour to complete.

5. Surgery.

For some, surgery may be an option. There are several types of surgeries that address stress urinary incontinence.  These procedures are intended to help correct a weakened pelvic floor, where the bladder neck and urethra have dropped. The most popular procedure is to use a sling, which serves as a “hammock” to support the urethra. Surgical slings may be used in both men and women who experience stress incontinence, and also women who have experienced pelvic organ prolapse. There are many types of sling procedures so be sure to talk to your doctor about your options and research what is right for you.

The most important thing to remember when exploring incontinence treatment is that you have options. Talk to your doctor about your wishes and work together to find a treatment that works for you.

How To Get Rid Of A Bladder Infection Fast

How to get rid of a bladder infection fast.

If you’re reading this post, you’re likely in the midst of a bladder infection or urinary tract infection (UTI) and are in some serious need of relief now!  We get it – UTIs are no fun – they can be really painful, leave you rushing to the bathroom nonstop, and can even lead to leaks. So it’s no wonder you’re researching quick cures for bladder infections. 

The best thing you can do for fast relief from a bladder infection is to is see your doctor, and get an antibiotic. 

Antibiotics kill the bacteria that causes bladder infections and are the best way to stop a UTI in its tracks. They typically work pretty quickly, although be sure to take your medication for the full course, even if you’re feeling better sooner than that.  So, if you’ve been experiencing a UTI for more than a couple of days, make an appointment with your doctor now to get treatment.

In the meantime, there are a few things you can do for a little relief.

  1. Drink water – lots of it. Getting in the recommended eight glasses of water per day can help flush the bacteria out of your bladder and make you heal a bit faster.  Limit your caffeine or sugary drinks though, as they can irritate you bladder.
  2. When you gotta go, go. Holding your urine when you really have to go gives time for the bacteria in your system to multiply, making it harder to get rid of. 
  3. Talk to your doctor about over the counter pain relievers. While these won’t cure a UTI, they may help give you a bit of relief while you’re waiting for the antibiotics to treat the infection. 
  4. Rest.  Getting enough rest gives your body the energy it needs to be able to fight off an infection. Make sure you are getting the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep each night.
  5. Wear loose clothing.  Not only will this be more comfortable for you during this time, but it might also prevent bacteria growth. Bacteria grow the quickest in moist, warm environments so ditch the skinny jeans for a week or so and opt for loose trousers, skirts or dresses. 

Follow the steps above for quick relief from UTIs.  

Ask The Expert: Why Does It Hurt When I Pee?

NAFC Ask The Expert Logo

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’ve been feeling a really burning sensation when I pee the past few days. What’s happening?

Answer: While a burning sensation can be caused by many things such as sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) or a kidney infection you likely have a UTI, or a bladder infection.  UTIs are very common, and are typically caused by bacteria that get into the urinary tract through the urethra.

UTI’s are more common in women, but can occur in men too. Symptoms may include not only a burning sensation, but frequent urges to urinate, abdominal pain, fever, and cloudy, bloody, or strong-smelling urine.

UTIs are generally treated with antibiotics, which can ease symptoms pretty quickly, although prevention is key.  Be sure to always drink plenty of water, eat a healthy diet, don’t hold in your urine, urinate after sex, and keep your vaginal area clean.  Make sure you’re wiping from front to back to avoid introducing new bacteria into your vaginal area. 

It also helps to keep stress to a minimum – while stress doesn’t necessarily cause a UTI, when you’re highly stressed, your immune system doesn’t work quite as well and can lead to you developing illnesses or infections.  Practice some stress-reducing activities, such as exercise or meditation.

UTIs can be painful and inconvenient, but with quick attention, they don’t have to keep you down.  Talk to your doctor for treatment, and then practice some of the steps above to prevent them from happening in the future. 

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!

Finding Your People: A Guide To Online Communities For Caregivers

A Guide To Online Communities For Caregivers

Caring for someone else’s needs is a lot of work, and at times, a thankless job – even when it’s for someone you love. Learning the ins and outs of the various conditions your loved one may be suffering from, figuring out how to navigate Medicare and hospital paperwork, managing the physical toll, and even the financial strain is enough to make anyone second guess why they took on the job in the first place.

But finding a community of people you can lean on can be a real lifesaver. A great community can connect you with others who have experienced what you’re going through. You’ll find people who can answer the questions you may be dealing with, and those you can just vent to about the rough time you’ve been having lately. They can share tips and resources, knowledge and compassion. 

Living in such an online world makes it easier than ever to find a group you can lean on. Message boards and forums are a great place to connect with a lot of people like you, and to get and share a lot of information in one place. 

So what are you waiting for? Here are some great groups to check out. Most of these allow you to poke around a bit without posting anything, which is a great way to learn a lot and also get a feel for the community.  When you’re ready, share your own voice and start reaping the rewards that come with having a large group of caring people to lean on.

Online Communities For Caregivers:

Agingcare.com

The National Association For Continence Message Boards

The Caregiver Space

Know of some other great forums for caregivers to connect? Share them in the comments!

Online Resources For Caregivers

Online Resources For Caregivers

Choosing to take on the role of Caregiver can be daunting. The paperwork alone is overwhelming, let alone the emotional, physical and financial toll it can take.  Where can you turn for help? Luckily, there are a number of great resources out there to help you navigate the various tasks of caregiving.  See below for a list of organizations that offer help and support.

Useful Online Resources For Caregivers

AARP Family Caregiving

AgingCare.com

AssistGuide Information Services

American Red Cross

ARCH National Respite Network and Resource Center

Caregiver Action Network

ElderCare.com

Eldercare Locator

Family Caregiver Alliance

Medicare

National Alliance For Caregiving

National Clearinghouse for Long-term Care Information

Social Security Administration

State Health Insurance Assistance Program

For a more complete list of resources, visit the Caregiver Action Network’s comprehensive list.  

NAFC's Getting Started Guide For Managing Incontinence

NAFC's Step By Step Guide To Managing Incontinence

NAFC's Step By Step Guide To Managing Incontinence

If you’re new to this whole incontinence game, you may wonder how on earth you’re going to manage. Preventing leaks, keeping things clean, and navigating the isles of adult absorbent products at the grocery store are all probably top of mind right now, and rightly so. These are often the first steps people take when trying to manage bladder leaks.

But what comes next? And how do you even begin to tackle those items we just listed above?

We have you covered. NAFC has dedicated a whole section of our website to just getting started (which, to be honest, is often the hardest part). We’ve outlined the things you should do before you even make your first appointment to see your doctor (which you should do anyway, even if you complete all the steps we outline in our Getting Started Guide). 

Getting Started Guide For Managing Incontinence

 

This guide covers the basic steps, from how to keep a bladder diary, finding the right absorbent product, practicing pelvic floor strengthening moves, retraining your bladder or bowel, and a look at the vast array of options you have available to you for managing incontinence.

So take a look around, and start implementing some of these tips!  Begin with the first step:  finding an immediate way to manage your condition with absorbent products.   Then move on to the other helpful tips.