Incontinence is the lack of control over urination or defecation and many aging adults find that they need protective incontinence underwear. The uncontrolled leakage of urine or bowel movement which can not only be a source of distress but also a source of embarrassment.
Fortunately, a wide range of incontinence products are available to provide independence to sufferers and an enhanced quality of life.
Types of Incontinence
Leakage types of Urinary incontinence are classified as Light (Mild), Moderate or Heavy.
Several factors increase risk. These include
- Aging: The muscles in the bladder and urethra weaken with age.
- Gender: Women have a higher chance of experiencing stress incontinence than men, especially if they have had pregnancies, Delivery, and number of children increase the risk in women.
- Menopause: Women after menopause may develop urinary incontinence probably due to the drop in estrogen levels (the female sex hormone). Taking estrogen, however, has not been shown to help urinary incontinence.
- Prostate disease: Incontinence may present after prostate surgery or radiation therapy.
- Medications: Some medications trigger or make it worse.
- Diseases and conditions: Certain diseases and conditions like diabetes, kidney disease, high blood pressure, stroke, spinal cord injury, and neurological diseases, increase the risk.
- Obesity: Increases the risk of urinary incontinence because of extra pressure on the bladder and surrounding muscles. It weakens the muscles, making leakage more likely when the person sneezes or coughs. Losing weight can improve bladder function and lessen urinary incontinence symptoms (Urology Care Foundation 2021).
- Smoking: This can lead to a chronic cough, which may result in episodes of incontinence.
Light or Mild Bladder Leakage
Also known as LBL, or Light Bladder Leakage is more common in women during pregnancy and after childbirth, because pressure on the bladder weakens the pelvic floor muscles and without corrective exercises continues with aging. The most common type of light incontinence that affects women is stress incontinence. Other common types of female incontinence are urge and overflow incontinence (see Incontinence in Seniors. A Touchy Subject article)
LBL triggers can include:
- Coughing, sneezing, laughing, vigorous exercise or activity and even picking up something heavy when your bladder is full
- Excessive fluid intake
- Drinking coffee or tea
- Medical conditions such as a stroke, diabetes, thyroid disorder or a neurological condition like Parkinson’s disease
- Pelvic floor surgery
- Displacement of pelvic organs
Moderate or Heavy Leakage
Overflow incontinence (failure to completely empty the bladder at a sitting) is usually the common cause of moderate leakage amounts.
Urge incontinence is largely responsible for most episodes of heavy leakage.
Managing Incontinence with Protective Incontinence Underwear
The best incontinence underwear is based on personal preference since there are several factors that need to be considered (see previous article – Disposable Incontinence Underwear. How to Make a Choice).
When it comes down to the level of leakage, you should focus on the absorption capacity suited to your specific needs. While there are various brands available on the market, do not necessarily get carried away by the brand name but ensure that all factors are evaluated in terms of your comfort, specific needs, gender, lifestyle.
Several options for incontinence are available for both men and women. Absorbency is one of the major differences between light, moderate and heavy leakage products while others are fit and ease of use. Products include the following, many of which are disposable:
There are also daytime and overnight options.
Light Incontinence Products
Are usually discreet, designed to be highly absorbent and are also odor-free. They can be slipped inside regular underwear and remain unnoticeable.
The pH level of the urine is neutralized by the odor shield, while the soft cloth-like top sheet of pads and liners or feminine bladder control pads wick the urine away from the skin to keep it dry. This prevents irritation, discomfort, and rashes.
• Attends Discreet Incontinence Care Women’s Bladder Control Pads with Advanced DermaDry Technology – Discreet Maximum Long pad was designed to keep active users dry and comfortable without the need for protective underwear
• Seni Lady Very Light Liners – Regular Light Absorbency – Anatomical shape and wide adhesive strip secure the pad to the underwear help to prevent leakage. The pads are made of soft, vapor permeable fabrics to help protect the skin.
Moderate Incontinence Products
These are designed primarily for increased absorption but also have features to prevent leakage and odor. Briefs for Men, Briefs for Women along with Underwear and Underpants help manage moderate-to-heavy incontinence.
• Attends Discreet Bladder Control Pads – Moderate Absorbency Liner Pads -Case of 200 – Designed to keep active users dry and comfortable without the need for protective underwear. The Odor-Shield helps prevent odors to give the user confidence and dignity.
• Prevail Maximum Absorbency Incontinence Underwear with Breathable Rapid Absorption Discreet Comfort Fit Adult Diapers – Designed for moderate-maximum leakage protection, Prevail Underwear features Comfort-Shape Plus with gentle elastics that shape to the body for a more comfortable and discreet fit than standard adult diapers. The cloth-like outer cover is soft and comfortable
• Depend Incontinence Men Guards Maximum Absorbency For Bladder Control – Case of 104 – Good for moderate leakage because they have discreet cup-shaped protection right where needed. Other male incontinence supplies for moderate absorbency aside from guards are protective underwear.
Heavy Incontinence Products
Heavy incontinence can be managed with products designed to provide stronger protection. Heavy bladder leakage can be due to overflow, reflex, and functional incontinence.
• Mckesson Ultra Plus Stretch Tab Closure Unisex Briefs – Heavy Absorbency – Briefs range from lite absorbency to ultra absorbency, plus stretch or bariatric and feature a soft, cloth-like material and gentle leg gathers for maximum protection and comfort.
• FitRight Ultra Absorbency Underwear for Men – Case of 80 – This product is made specifically for either men (Grey color) or women (beige color – below)), with a different shape and absorbency designed for the comfort, discretion, and leak protection of each gender.
It has a super absorbent core and wicking outer layer provides odor control and pulls moisture away from the skin for leakage protection The linear embossing technology distributes fluid throughout the core for exceptional dryness and containment. Anti-leak guards provide an extra level of protection from leaks
• FitRight Ultra Absorbency Underwear for Women – Case of 80
Miscellaneous Incontinence Products
Aside from liners, diapers, briefs, guards and underwear, there are other miscellaneous incontinence products that can be used to enhance quality of life of sufferers of incontinence. These include
• Incontinence Underpads – protect mattresses and chairs.
• Washcloths and Wipes – keep the body area sanitized and free from rashes and skin breakdown.
• Booster pads – provide extra protection when used in combination with another absorbent product like incontinence underwear, diaper or brief. They are designed to fit easily into the insides of an adult diaper, etc, and help reduce nighttime changes.
Other useful products are diaper disposal systems and bed-wetting alarm systems.
Conclusion – protective Incontinence Underwear
Protective incontinence underwear is typically required by many aging seniors and the elderly. Making the right choice when it comes to urinary incontinence is key to overall comfort. The best products are those suited to the buyer’s needs
Urinary Incontinence. Urology Care Foundation https://www.urologyhealth.org/urology-a-z/u/urinary-incontinence
O’Sullivan et al (2004) Definition of mild, moderate and severe incontinence on the 24-hour pad test. BJOG 111(8):859-62 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15270937/