As part of the Parentgiving survey on incontinence, we asked what strategies you've used to control incontinence and whether they've helped. Our 197 respondents graciously shared what's worked—from layering incontinence products by day and adding bedding items at night to coping techniques such as timed toileting and how to best manage fluids.
Here's what respondents told us.
To avoid leaks:
- Talk to your doctor about trying different medicines to control incontinence.
- Try not to drink liquids after 8pm or before leaving the house.
- Cut back on caffeinated beverages, which act like diuretics by increasing urination.
- Try timed toileting: Go to the bathroom, whether or not you have the urge, every two or three hours, especially if you're still employed want to avoid rushed trips to the toilet.
- Increase the frequency with which you go to the restroom in general—"I try to use a toilet frequently so that my bladder does not get too full."
- "Try different items to find the right balance that works for you."
- "A size-6 disposable toddler diaper makes an inexpensive but very effective insert pad."
- "We use a swimmer's plastic diaper over mom's regular diaper when we go out for an extended length of time."
- Use incontinence protection products that are more absorbent than you think you will need.
- "I use the overnight diapers for my Mom 24/7. It's expensive, but worth it."
For better product protection:
- Experiment with different types of products, different sizes and absorbencies.
- Use different products as needed, depending on the situation.
- Try a layered approach, such as using heavy pads within adult diapers and topping with plastic pants when necessary.
- Change your incontinence brief before it's completely full.
- For overnight protection, add side padding, such as a men's guard, on each side of your overnight brief.
- Layer mattress pads to keep your bed dry.
- Keep a urinal or commode at bedside so that you won't lose precious time finding your way to the bathroom in the middle of the night.
- Remember other products to protect skin. A good cleaning product is essential and a good protective healing cream is absolutely necessary.
Lifestyle changes that may help:
- 19. "I follow acidic/alkaline food intakes as suggested by my doctor. It's helped—I have fewer UTIs."
- Try to time liquid intake with any diuretic medicines you're taking.
- Limit liquids before and during social functions.
- But don't just restrict all liquid intake. "My father reduced his fluid intake, leading to dehydration, UTIs, and adult failure-to-thrive," warned one respondent.
- Do exercises to strengthen muscles involved in urination. "Kegel exercises—yes, they help."
- Go to the bathroom at the first urge.
- Limit your intake of salty food products.
- Try medication to firm up stool.
- Always keep a supply bag on hand—it helps a lot.
- Tight-fitting cotton underwear over a crinkly diaper reduces the noise.
- Diaper samples are vital to finding the right product—ask about them when shopping.
- Beware of companies that change their products without warning—it's a serious problem.
- Buy looser-fitting clothing to more discretely accommodate incontinence products.
- Try diet changes: Not eating before going out, keeping portions very small if away from home and sorting through different foods—some affect the condition more than others.
- Keep other health issues, such as diabetes, well controlled.
- Staying close to home bathrooms can make things easier.
- Check out bathroom options wherever you go to be prepared, should the need arise—you may be able to avoid an accident.
Best suggestions for better management:
- Practice cleanliness and make the effort to always use quality skin care products to avoid skin breakdown.
- Change pads and briefs often to prevent skin problems.
- Do whatever you need to do, and don't be embarrassed, should you have an accident.
- Err on the side of over-protection.
- Find your most suitable product and order in bulk, or set up auto delivery, so you'll always be "ready."
- Have the right comfortable pad and keep it close to the groin area—the length of the pad is important.
- I always try new products to see if they're more comfortable, more absorbent and/or less expensive. Being aware of what's available and what's new is important.
- "If I am going out, I wear a tighter fitting panty. At home, I wear pads and a belt."
- "Urethane plastic pants—high cut-for night time wear—are essential, no matter what combination of disposable or washable/reusable pants, diapers, pads, etc. are worn underneath."
Try this practical, honest advice:
- If the condition is curable, get the appropriate treatment. If not, move on and find the best absorbent products for your needs.
- If you're under the care of a professional physical therapist, follow his or her instructions and recommendations.
- Follow your doctor's orders—sounds obvious, but if you let up, you'll lose ground.
- Do your online research about incontinence to stay informed.
- Use your everyday common sense and don't get discouraged when you have a bad day.
- The best thing is to keep up with it: Don't let incontinence get ahead of you.