The best way to take care of the incontinence problem is to act step by step. Some actions, which may seem not to have much to do with the problem, can be really helpful to manage it, both for active and bedridden people. Positive attitude and the willingness to introduce positive change into your life are crucial.
Where can I start?
Take a sufficient amount of fluids
The organism needs a daily allowance of fluids in order to function properly – it is important to remember this even when being incontinent. Depending on the age, gender, ambient temperature or the intensity of daily activities the amount of necessary fluids varies, however, the organism is able to express it when it needs hydration. It is worth to react to the cues your body gives you, and to keep some important things in mind.
- An adult person should take approximately 1,5 to 2 litres of fluids every day. In periods of very hot weather that amount needs to be increased.
- Drinking a sufficient amount of liquids helps the kidneys work properly.
- It is best to stick to the rule of drinking when it is necessary.
- It is best to quench one’s thirst with drinks which don’t have empty calories – choose still mineral water, spring water, herbal and fruit teas, chicory coffee and skimmed milk.
Note: some of the herbal teas, for instance nettle tea, have a diuretic effect. Some of the fruit, like watermelons or cherries also work that way.
Limiting the amount of fluids in order to lessen one’s incontinence is a really adverse solution. Forget it. Drinking less will decrease urination, but will also decrease the capacity of the bladder what may lead to polyuria (increasing the frequency of urge to urinate). This means you will feel the urge to urinate more frequently, even when the bladder isn’t filled up.
Taking insufficient amounts of fluids may lead to dehydration, what is really dangerous for babies and the older people.
Initial symptoms of dehydration:
- intense thirst
- dryness in the mouth
- bodyweight loss
Further symptoms of progressing dehydration include gradual energy loss and psychomotoric impairment. Progressing dehydration is a serious threat to one’s health.
Keep a healthy diet and take care to relieve yourself regularly
Keeping a healthy diet, which provides the organism with all the necessary nutrients, ensures one’s wellbeing and helps to avoid problems with digestion. Frequent constipations caused by a bad diet expand the end of the digestive tract. That can put pressure on the bladder and irritate it, what limits its capacity. What is more, the pressure put on the urethra can make it difficult to void the bladder what may lead to overflow incontinence.
A few rules of healthy feeding which will help you avoid digestive problems:
- Breakfast is the most important meal of the day – it provides energy for the whole day. Make sure it covers approx. ¼ of recommended daily calorie demand.
- Have light suppers – a full stomach makes it difficult to sleep.
- If you are on a special diet strictly follow your doctor’s/ nutritionist’s advice.
- Eat slowly – eating in a hurry is bad for your health.
- Your diet should be varied – remember that your organism needs its carbohydrates, protein and fat to function well.
- Eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables – they are a crucial supplement of a healthy diet as they are rich in vitamins, minerals and fibre.
- Eat a moderate amount of spicy and heavy food – your problems with digestion may be bigger than the satisfaction of eating such food.
- Limit your salt intake – salt stops the water in your body – using too much salt leads to swelling.
- Avoid empty calories (found in sweets, crisps, and other “junk food”) – your organism doesn’t benefit much from them and the excess calories are transformed into fat.
- Avoid heavy and greasy meals – it is best to have 4–5 light meals instead, and eat at the same time every day.
- Avoid overeating – this may cause indigestion.
- Don’t snack between meals – it can lead to getting overweight.
Watch your weight
Being overweight is one of the causes of urinary incontinence. Excessive amount of fat in the abdominal area makes the pelvic floor muscles weaker, and puts pressure on the internal organs including the bladder. It is worth to lose that few extra kilograms.
Losing weight is a difficult task, but it’s not impossible. The healthiest way to lose weight is to do it gradually by keeping a healthy diet and taking exercise regularly. People who are unable to take exercise are advised to try other forms of physical activity, for example taking walks, which also positively affect one’s mood.
Adjust your environment
Providing easy toilet access is one of the most crucial factors which influence the way incontinent people feel. Adjusting the environment is really important for people with limited mobility. Knowing that the way to the toilet is simple and easy makes going to the toilet less stressful, which might limit the number of urine loss episodes.
What can help?
- Wear clothes that make preparing to urinate quicker – wearing button-up trousers is quite impractical.
- Ensure that the way to the toilet is simple and easy – manoeuvring around obstacles such as furniture can slow you down on your way to the toilet.
- Having a commode next to your bed is a good idea if adjusting the surroundings is not possible, and you are afraid that you won’t make it to the toilet on time. This is very useful especially at night.
Employ preventive treatment
A little effort put into preventive treatment can save you a lot of pain and difficulties with urinary tract infections, or skin irritations which can develop into bedsores. Bedridden people are less immune to infections, and what is more, the skin of incontinent people is exposed to wetness from irritant urine. It is very important to pay special attention to hygiene.
- It is crucial to change the absorbent product when necessary. Avoid using a pad or a diaper for too long. An absorbent product which is full doesn’t protect from incontinence episodes and may cause skin irritation.
- Gently cleanse the skin each time you change the absorbent product. It is best to use special foam or other cleansing products that can be used without water.
- The skin, after cleansing, should be protected with protective creams, which protect it from the influence of irritants.
You can read more about the proper hygiene for incontinent people here.