People suffering from incontinence are unable to control their bladders. This is common in older people and can range from occasionally leaking urine when coughing or sneezing, to a strong and sudden urinating urge. Even though it isn’t considered a disability, it can still be an unpleasant experience that affects your quality of life because it occurs suddenly.
Luckily, the pharmaceutical industry has developed a lot of incontinence products that allow you to go around your day without worrying about this condition. One such product is the convenient incontinence underwear that is designed to absorb urine and prevent one’s clothes from staining to avoid the embarrassment of accidents. But unlike buying regular underwear, there’re some factors you need to consider to find the right fit.
Determine the Level of Incontinence
As much as specialised underwear is one of the most practical incontinence supplies on the market, it won’t be of any value for you if you don’t carefully decide on the amount of absorbency you need, depending on your level of incontinence. The greater the level of incontinence, the more absorbency you’ll need.
- Light incontinence – Very slight leakage that occurs when one puts a little pressure on the bladder during some actions, like coughing or sneezing, or when the bladder is too full and can’t contain the overflow. This level of incontinence can be successfully overcome only by using incontinence pads.
- Moderate incontinence – Releasing large amounts of urine, but not completely losing bladder control. This level of incontinence can be prevented by using pads too, but the specially designed undergarments are a more convenient option because of their bigger absorbency power.
- Heavy incontinence – Completely losing the ability to control your bladder during the day. It’s recommended to use heavy-duty incontinence underwear.
- Fecal incontinence – Losing bowel control, and often accompanies urinary incontinence. In this case, it’s recommended to use disposable underwear that is designed to support both urinary and fecal incontinence.
Choose Between Reusable or Disposable Underwear
When it comes to choosing between reusable and disposable incontinence underwear, different people have different preferences. If you still don’t know what’s the best option for you, take into consideration the advantages and disadvantages that both offer before you decide.
The reusable underwear for incontinence is a budget-friendly option since it can be easily washed which makes it a long-lasting solution. It also looks and feels like wearing your regular underwear, and provides maximum discretion regardless of the outfit you wear. The reusable pants are often made of breathable and flexible materials, allowing you to maintain your active lifestyle and move freely throughout the day.
But even though their purpose is to protect and absorb, the reusable pants are not recommended for people with higher levels of incontinence, since they’re mostly designed for lighter bladder leakages. Also, the reusable underwear must be washed at high temperatures to kill off bacteria and prevent infections that can make your condition worse.
On the other hand, disposable pants for incontinence are a more convenient and hygienic solution, especially for travelling and for the people “on the go”, because you can simply change them and throw them away in every restroom.
Another thing that makes disposable underwear more convenient is that it offers more absorbency than the reusable ones, without compensating for the underwear-like feeling. Some of them even include worry-free odour protection, featuring different scents.
But have in mind that using disposable underwear is a more expensive variant, and throwing them away means visiting your supplier more frequently. They are also not that environment-friendly, and they mustn’t be flushed down the toilet or disposed of in public trash cans.
Take Gender into Account
As much as the market offers unisex incontinence pants, it’s always recommended to choose these incontinence supplies according to your gender. Men and women are anatomically different, and therefore their needs for this specialised underwear are different.
The incontinence underwear for men is specifically designed for the male’s body anatomy, and features urine guards and pouches that fit on the end of the male genitalia, making the front of the underwear more absorbent. When it comes to women’s incontinence underwear, the area of absorbency is placed at the bottom part of the underwear, in a way that covers the female genitalia properly to prevent leaking.
Another thing that’s between the male and female incontinence underwear is also the fit. Aside from that, their different colours and designs may not make for a functional feature, but it’s important for reducing the stigma of using incontinence products a lot of people face.
Pick the Right Size
Once you determined all the features that fit your needs, another thing you should know is that wearing incontinence underwear that doesn’t fit your size is not suitable at all – a smaller size will make you feel uncomfortable same as regular underwear does, and a larger size will sit on your body loosely, without stopping the urine from leaking, so make sure that the leg area of the pants is snug enough.
If you don’t know what size fits you, don’t worry, since it can always be measured easily. All you need to do is take a tape measure and get comfortable by laying down or standing, depending on your preference. The next step is to carefully measure your waist and hips, making sure that the tape doesn’t overlap. Use the larger measurement as the perfect size for incontinence underwear.
Other Useful Tips to Deal with Incontinence
When dealing with incontinence, hygiene comes first, so make sure you always change the “dirty” underwear on time and wash the reusable ones properly to prevent infections or getting skin rashes and irritations. If you’re the type of person that has a busy lifestyle and don’t have time to wash yourself after every incontinence incident, a convenient alternative can be to use special wash gloves or cleansing foams that are made from ingredients that are good for genitalia’s PH value and maintain the skin’s acid mantle.
Also, doctors recommend using skin barrier creams that protect your skin from irritations, inflammations and erosion from the frequent exposure to urine and faeces. Make sure you always opt for the ones that are enriched with vitamin E, amino acids and natural oils, and avoid the ones that contain zinc oxide.
As much as you choose the right incontinence underwear and you’re using convenient incontinence supplies that support your needs, the leakages come “unannounced” and can cause a real mess, especially when it comes to heavy incontinence levels. In this situation, you can try to protect the furniture around you or the one that is suffering from incontinence with special pads that are made from waterproof and breathable materials to absorb the urine. The best thing about these pads is that they can be found in different shapes and sizes that fit your living room furniture, car seats, wheelchairs and beds, which makes them essential for people suffering from incontinence.
These incontinence products may make your experience easier, but the main goal for a person suffering from incontinence is to reduce the number of incidents or prevent them completely. And one of the best ways to do so is to adopt healthier habits. This means cutting down on caffeine, alcohol and spicy, acidic foods since they tend to irritate the bladder and make leaks and other symptoms worse.
Also, one of the best things you can do to prevent incontinence accidents is to quit smoking. Over time, many smokers develop a chronic cough, which puts huge amounts of pressure on their pelvic muscles, making them weak and increasing the chances of accidental leaks. You can also try exercising on regular basis, especially pelvic floor exercises that are very useful for strengthening these muscles and helping the incontinence symptoms decrease over time.