Ask The Expert: Does Incontinence Happen Over Time Or Does It Come On Suddenly?

Ask The Expert: Does Incontinence Happen Over Time Or Does It Come On Suddenly?

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: Does incontinence happen over time, or is it something that comes on suddenly?

Expert Answer:  This really depends on your unique situation. For many people, aging, and pelvic floors that have been weakened over time can slowly contribute to incontinence. For women, this process may have started with childbirth as the initial factor that caused the weakness. Overtime, if not treated or seen to, a weak pelvic floor can lead to incontinence, even if it didn’t happen right away after birth (or if it went away for a while).

There are other things that can contribute to incontinence over time too. Being over weight can place excess pressure on the bladder, making it harder to avoid accidents. Smoking can contribute to incontinence since many long-time smokers develop a chronic cough, again placing excess pressure on the bladder and causing the pelvic floor to weaken over time.

Certain neurological diseases, such as MS or Parkinson’s Disease, and diabetes, can also increase your risk for incontinence, as they interfere with the nerve signals between the bladder and the brain.

However, other things can contribute to incontinence too, and can be much more apparent quickly rather than over a period of time.  In men, prostate surgery can sometimes lead to a period of incontinence immediately after the procedure. And incontinence can also result in anyone who may have had neurological damage, such as spinal cord damage from an accident, or other medical condition.  Even some minor conditions, such as a bladder infection, may cause a sudden episode of incontinence. 

Finally, sometimes the foods you eat or the medications you take may cause you to have incontinence. There are many known bladder irritants that can contribute to incontinence: alcohol, caffeine, spicy or acidic foods (keep in mind that this is a case by case basis – not everyone is affected by every bladder irritant).  And, some medications, such has heart and blood pressure medications, or muscle relaxants may act as diuretics, causing you to increase your urine production, and potentially leading to incontinence.

The most important thing to remember here, no matter how incontinence comes about, is that it’s not a normal condition. Common? Yes. Normal? No. Incontinence is not an inevitable part of aging, nor should it be something you feel you need to live with. Many people can see great improvements with behavioral and lifestyle changes, and if those don’t work, you can talk to your doctor about medications, in-office treatments, or even surgery. 

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: 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!

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

How Do I Keep Myself Odor Free When I Have Incontinence?

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?

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: How Do I Avoid Leaks When Visiting Loved Ones?

How Do I Avoid Leaks When Visiting Loved Ones?

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: Are There Other Things Besides Prostate Trouble That Can Cause Incontinence In Men?

Prostate Trouble and Incontinence

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: Are There Other Things Besides Prostate Trouble That Can Cause Incontinence In Men?

AnswerProstate problems in men typically get the blame for incontinence issues for good reason – many men experience issues with their prostate (BPH, prostate cancer) which can often cause incontinence, even if it’s just for a brief time. But there are other conditions that may be contributing to the root of the issue as well. Being overweight can put extra pressure on the bladder, which may cause leaks. Certain foods can also irritate the bladder, causing incontinence – especially if you’re already prone to the condition.  Additionally, neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s or diabetes can lead to neurogenic bladder, where the brain is unable to communicate properly with the bladder. Even still, urinary tract infections or blockages can lead to bladder troubles.

The most important thing to consider is that incontinence is generally a symptom of something else, and can almost always be treated. If you’re experiencing bladder leaks, see your doctor today and ask for help. Your doctor will be able to dig deeper to find the root cause of your incontinence and work with you to find a solution.   

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!