How to Choose the Right Incontinence Products
By: Michele Mongillo, MSN, BSN, RN, RAC-CT
Millions of people face the challenges of living with bladder leakage called, incontinence. One of those challenges is trying to figure out what incontinence products to choose that will fit your lifestyle.
If you are struggling to choose the right incontinence products, or if you are unhappy with your current products, you have come to the right place! Understanding incontinence products can be tricky due to the numerous options available. There are a few basic factors to consider when choosing an incontinent product either for yourself or someone that you are helping manage incontinence. The goal of this blog is to narrow it down for you, in the simplest way possible, so you can choose the best product that fits your needs. Finding the right product is crucial so you can live a quality filled life without fear of embarrassment from urinary leakage.
These four factors can help you identify the best product to meet your unique needs and situation: gender, amount of leakage, lifestyle, comfort/discretion.
2. Amount of Leakage
d) Urinary and Fecal
When selecting an incontinent product, you should take into consideration your lifestyle and level of activity. If you are able to walk and are able to get to the bathroom on your own, then a bladder control pad that fits into your own underwear or adult style pull-up underwear may be a good choice if your leakage level is light to moderate. These products provide comfort and discretion underneath your clothing. If you have limited mobility and are not able to get to a bathroom or rely on a caregiver to assist you then a full adult brief might be the best choice if you have heavy leakage or fecal incontinence. If you are caring for someone that you are able to take to the bathroom at regular intervals and their leakage is light to moderate, the bladder control pad or underwear may work in this situation.
4. Comfort / Discretion
Discretion is something that most people are looking for when they are wearing an incontinent product. Many products are designed to fit inside of your own underwear, they are soft and comfortable while being absorbent. There are also products that look like regular underwear and can be worn very discreetly under your regular clothes. Look for these types of products that fit close to the body, have a cloth like material and come in male and female options.
Choosing the right style of product
– Inserts, also called pads, are protective, disposable garments made for women and worn inside your own underwear. Designed with a plastic, waterproof backing, and an adhesive strip to attached to underwear. Most contour to fit comfortably to your body. Pads come in a variety of sizes and absorbency levels. They are best for individuals who are active and do not experience large amounts of leakage. Keep in mind these products are intended to use in your own underwear not with another incontinent product.
– This is a pull-up style disposable product, very similar to regular underwear. Pull-ups are for light to moderate bladder leakage; however, there are a variety of absorbency levels available. They are available for both men and women and are designed differently to accommodate physical differences. Keep in mind that changing this product in public may be challenging if you are wearing pants. This product provides the feel of wearing your own underwear.
– Adult briefs provide full protection similar to a diaper. Briefs are for moderate to heavy bladder and/or bowel incontinence. They can be equally used by both men and women. Briefs are best for individuals with a higher incontinence level and less active lifestyle. They can be changed without taking off your pants and can provide protection for a long period of time. It is important to select a brief that is highly absorbent and wicks away the moisture quickly to help keep the skin dry in between changes.
Underpads (other names ‘chux’, ’bed pads’)
– Underpads are absorbent pads designed to protect the mattress or furniture from urine damage. The pad is placed underneath the person and absorbs leaking liquid. Keep in mind that with the correct fitting incontinence product there is less chance of leakage and less need for underpads. This is an excellent product to protect your car seats during a trip if you are unable to change your products as frequently as needed.
– Wipes are disposable washcloths used traditionally for hygiene purposes for cleaning the skin, as a result of urine/bowel incontinent episodes.
Combination of products available for home
– There are instances when more than one type of product is needed. You may need a pad during the day, but want more protection at night and use a pull-up underwear. You may use a pull-up underwear during the day but want a brief at night for more security.
Choosing the right incontinence product is an individualized choice and approach to managing your bladder leakage. I realize that this can be an overwhelming decision due to the number of products, sizes and absorbency levels that are available. However, by educating yourself and using this article as a guide when making this decision, you will be better prepared as you navigate the world of incontinence products.
By: Michele Mongillo, MSN, BSN, RN, RAC-CT