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Incontinence & Overactive Bladder Health Center

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Bladder Control Protection for Urinary Incontinence

You laugh and then leak. Or you sneeze and then dribble. Maybe you just lose it all.

The problem is urinary incontinence, a term used to describe a broad range of bladder control issues experienced by more than 12 million people. For some, medication or surgery helps. But for millions, over-the-counter "hygiene products" are an important coping tool.

Recommended Related to Urinary Incontinence/OAB

Bladder Training

When you have trouble controlling your bladder, you never know when you're going to feel the sudden, uncontrollable urge to go. You can get to the point where you are scheduling your entire life around the availability of a bathroom. The fear of leaking while shopping or out with friends can be embarrassing enough to make you stay home. Bladder control problems are something most people are reluctant to talk about, even with their doctors. Yet having that discussion can help you find a solution...

Read the Bladder Training article > >

What follows is a guide to the most popular incontinence products and some tips for finding the ones that are right for you.

What You Should Know About Absorbent Products

Absorbent products include liners, pads, disposable underwear, and even reusable underwear. Most are designed not only to absorb urine and hold it for a significant period of time, but also to help control any associated odors. Of the three functions, however, experts agree absorbency is the most critical.

Absorbent products designed for incontinence control not only "catch" the leaks, drips, dribbles, and flow, but also immediately pull the moisture away from your skin, shuttling it deep into the pad, where it spreads evenly. Consequently, you can go longer without having to change.

Even though all incontinence protection products have a "saturation" point -- they can hold only so much liquid -- not every product absorbs at the same rate. Sometimes the difference can be dramatic. And since there is no industry standard for terms such as "plus" or "ultra plus," it's definitely worth it to try another brand if you're not satisfied with the protection you are getting from your current product.

Many disposable pads, liners, and undergarments are now available with a waterproof backing. The backing helps prevent overflow from reaching your clothes. The newest waterproof system uses a "breathable" plastic film that does more than simply offer extra protection. It also helps reduce skin irritation and urinary dermatitis associated with some waterproof linings, and reduces exposure to acids in the urine.

Urinary Incontinence and Odor Control

Most incontinence pads, liners, and disposable underwear feature some type of odor control. Often, the materials are treated with a natural odor-absorbing compound such as baking soda. Sometimes, though, manufacturers add fragrance to the pad, liner, or garment, and while some people find this pleasant, others find it causes skin irritation. Additionally, if you have sensitive skin, even odor control compounds can cause you problems.

If this is a problem for you, look for products that are fragrance-free and contain no chemicals for odor control.

If you accidentally leak urine onto a garment or furniture there are several products you can use -- sprays and special detergents -- that remove urine stains and odors. Most are sold in pharmacies in the incontinence section. Some can be found in mail order health catalogs or online.

Choosing Your Product Style

Pads and liners come in a variety of shapes and sizes to make it easier to find the right fit for almost every body shape and almost every lifestyle.

WebMD Medical Reference

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