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Living with Incontinence

Updated on December 23, 2012
When you have to go, you hope you can get to the restroom on time.
When you have to go, you hope you can get to the restroom on time. | Source

Urinary Incontinence

Urinary incontinence -- a partial or complete loss of bladder control --is a common but very annoying condition to have. According to the National Association for Continence, it affects 200 million people worldwide. Yet, because of the stigma that is associated with this condition, it is rarely discussed, and people suffer with it alone. Since one-third of men and women ages 30-70 believe that incontinence is a normal part of aging, they rarely discuss the issue with their doctors or attempt to find the cause or treatment for it.


Shame and Quality of Life

Even though incontinence rarely causes physical pain, it causes a significant decrease in the quality of life of the sufferer. Because he smells like urine from time to time, people may avoid spending time with him. Or he may voluntarily stay away from people to avoid the embarrassment. After all, people should be potty trained by the time they go to grade school. He may feel that his employers will not be able to trust that he can manage an account when he can't even manage his own bladder. Ultimately, many people become shut in their own homes as a result of this condition.

Urinary incontinence is an uncomfortable and oftentimes embarrassing issue, but there are many ways you can increase comfort, and even increase bladder control. Here are some suggestions for ways you can live more comfortably with urinary incontinence.

Talking to Your Doctor about Urinary Incontinence

The first and foremost thing you should do about urinary incontinence is to discuss it with your doctor. Your doctor can rule out other conditions that cause this issue. There are several different types of incontinence and different methods to treat them. Your doctor can help you decide among the many treatments that are available for this condition.

  • Kegel exercises have been found to provide relief for many patients. Your doctor can teach you how to do the exercises properly, and provide cones and other devices that can ensure that you do them directly.
  • There are medications you can take that help relax the bladder muscles so you have enough time to get to the bathroom.
  • Surgery is also an option. There are several different types of surgeries that are used to treat this issue.

Pads for Incontinence

Since sanitary napkins are readily available at drug stores, grocery stores and department stores, and do not identify the buyer as incontinent, they are generally the first method people use to manage bladder leakage. They keep your clothes dry and keep the moisture away from your skin. For more leakage, it is necessary to use incontinence pads. They come in a number of strengths and sizes. There are even pads that resemble diapers which are useful for bladder and renal incontinence.

You can buy these online and get them in plain boxes that do not identify what is in the package.


People with incontinence can get rashes, not unlike diaper rashes. To avoid this, make sure that the skin is kept dry. Be sure to clean thoroughly, from the front to back to avoid contamination. Diaper rash medication can be helpful to alleviate the itching.

The card may be a joke, but incontinence is no laughing matter.
The card may be a joke, but incontinence is no laughing matter. | Source

Urinary Smells

When you have bladder leakage, you may worry that you will smell like urine. You may have walked by someone who you can quickly identify as incontinent simply because of the smell.

There are several ways you can avoid the tell-tale ammonia smell. Drink plenty of water so that your urine is not concentrated. This may mean that you will have to go to the bathroom more often, but it will be clearer and won't smell as strong.

It can be frustrating to change your pad only to get up and cough and have more leakage. Even if you can't change your pad every time you have a leak, be sure to change the pads regularly so the smell does not have a chance to become strong.

Identify the Cause of Bladder Leakage

If you notice that a certain food is triggering your bladder to spasm, you can avoid eating that food or try a substitute. Foods that may cause bladder issues are acidic foods, spicy foods, caffeinated beverages, alcohol, and sweeteners. Some medications, such as high blood pressure medication, antidepressants, muscle relaxants and sleeping pills can also cause issues.

If you notice that your problem is exacerbated by coughing and sneezing, you need to identify the cause of the coughing and sneezing and find a way to control that.

Work and Incontinence

Most people are able to work normal jobs when they are incontinent. You may be able to ask for an office or work location that is close to a bathroom. Carrying a change of clothes in your car or desk will help you avoid having to go home to change. There is a chance that people may notice that you changed your clothes, but they would do that if you went home to change. In this way, at least you can avoid missing work.



Many people with this condition become withdrawn and stay home instead of going out to avoid letting their secret becoming public. They don't go out with their friends and avoid making new relationships. Just the thought of having to explain their condition to a new partner makes them dread starting new relationships.

With the internet and phone, they can have arms length relationships with people they don't have to meet in public, but wind up becoming recluses.

While there are people who will shun you and stay away from you because of the possibility of the smell, this condition is common enough that there are many people who understand what you are going through. As long as you do your best to keep sanitary, many people who you expect to shun you may be quite willing to remain friends and help you through your issues. I recommend letting the friends decide whether they want to continue the relationship instead of assuming that they do not. Yes, the rejection will hurt, but you won't have any friends left if you reject them preemptively.

Meet them in outdoor or in open areas where smells can easily dissipate. Be sure to choose areas, like parks, where restrooms are readily available.

Shopping and Other Activities

Most people with incontinence scan any new area they visit and identify the location of the restrooms so they are ready. Even though the goal is to train their bladder to hold urine longer, they may go as soon as they spot a restroom "just in case". In this way, they are able to enjoy the rest of their shopping through the rest of the store.

In the video, the woman has had surgery for urinary and renal incontinence. It shows how drastically the condition affects her personal life.

Suffering from Incontinence

You do not have to resign yourself to a life as a hermit, tucked away from public eyes, when you find out you have this condition. There are many ways to treat it, and there are many products on the market that help you stay dry and comfortable. Be sure to talk to your doctor and find a solution that works for you.

© 2012 Shasta Matova

Comments: "Living with Incontinence"

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    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 5 years ago from USA

      Thanks Sharon. The trauma of childbirth is one of the main causes of incontinence. I do hope that your sister gets help, because it is a treatable condition.

    • Sharyn's Slant profile image

      Sharon Smith 5 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Hi Shasta ~ I love how you are able to so respectfully write about taboo subjects. I have a sister that suffers with incontinence (she is not even 50 yet) and I feel bad for her. She laughs about it though. But I think she should speak to her doctor about it further. It all started after she had her last baby and then had her gall bladder removed just days later. Great informative hub!

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 5 years ago from USA

      Thanks Dianna, with incontinence, it is a catch-22. If you drink water, you feel you have to go more often, and there is more liquid to leak. Plus, if you drink before you go to bed, you will undoubtedly have to get up in the middle of the night to go (sometimes several times.) But if you don't drink water, the urine is concentrated and smells worse. There is a balance.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      I know drinking lots of water helps with so many health issues and it seems a big help with incontinence. I can see where caffeine would affect this condition adversely. Great hub post and it will surely be of comfort to those who suffer with this condition.

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 5 years ago from USA

      GTF, thanks for the comment. It is ta shame that this subject is taboo. I am reading a book called The Bathroom Key, and it says over 50% of women have had at least one episode of incontinence. These women take eight years to report the condition to anyone, including their doctor. The number one reason for nursing home placement among women is not senility or lack of mobility but incontinence. All of this is such a shame, since it is a treatable condition.

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 5 years ago

      Good hub Millionaire, and not an easy one to write about I imagine. Useful and up!

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 5 years ago from USA

      Thanks HO. I think that talking about topics like this out in the open helps unveil the mask of mystery and helps people understand it a bit more. I hope you and your family have Happy Holidays as well!

    • hawaiianodysseus profile image

      Hawaiian Odysseus 5 years ago from Southeast Washington state

      Millionaire Tips, I congratulate you on the range of topics you're willing to tackle. This hub is a departure from your usual fare, but you give it the same level of energy, diligent research, and dedicated writer's ethic as you would your personal finance niche hubs. Congratulations, and thanks for sharing! Happy Holidays to you and yours!

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 5 years ago from USA

      Thanks thiruselvamk, you are right. There is nothing to be ashamed of. Your idea to visit the toilet first is a great idea.

      Thanks Audrey, I think that speaking up about these taboo subjects helps people realize they are not alone. It also helps those who don't have the condition understand what the others are going through.

      Thanks Aurelio, it does help to be prepared for the future possibility. Since it is so common, it is likely that either you or someone you love may eventually get the incontinence.

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 5 years ago from Orange County, CA

      This is not really a subject people want to discuss, so it's good that you are broaching it in this hub. As we get older, we're more likely to suffer from it, so it's good to know what to do. Voting this Up and Useful.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 5 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      An excellent and very informative hub on incontinence. Thank you for making this subject a priority. Well done!

    • thiruselvamk profile image

      K Thiruselvam 5 years ago from MALAYSIA

      INCONTINENCE will surface as we get older. There is nothing to be ashamed off, but awareness of this issue means being prepared with solutions. Especially when you need to be out of "comfort zone" like your house or office, the first thing is to visit the toilet of the cleaner floors. At every occasion on sight of a toilet, do rid the urine first. You need to be comfortable and at ease.