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Urinary incontinence products

Alternative Names

Adult diapers; Disposable urinary collection devices

Information

A wide variety of products are available for managing the leakage of urine associated with urinary incontinence. Your choice of a specific product depends on several factors, including:

  • Amount of urine loss
  • Comfort
  • Cost
  • Durability
  • Ease of use
  • Odor control ability
  • Pattern of urine loss

INSERTS AND PADS

Some men and women try to use sanitary napkins or mini pads to manage urine leakage. However, these products do not handle urine very well.

Disposable inserts are available that resemble a sanitary napkin or mini pad, but they are much more absorbent and have a waterproof backing. These inserts are meant to be worn inside your underwear. Some companies make reusable, washable cloth liners or pads that are held in place by waterproof pants.

ADULT DIAPERS AND UNDERWEAR

People who leak large amounts of urine may need to use adult diapers to contain the urine. Adult diapers are available in both disposable and reusable forms. Disposable diapers should fit snugly. They are usually available in small, medium, large, and extra large sizes. Some of these diapers have elastic leg gathers to improve the fit and prevent urine leakage.

Reusable incontinence undergarments may help save money. These resemble underpants with a waterproof crotch. They are designed to hold a reusable absorbent liner in place.

There is also a newer line of reusable incontinence undergarments that resemble normal underwear, but have the absorbency of disposable diapers. These undergarments require no additional pads. Instead, they have a unique crotch design that quickly pulls moisture away from the skin. They are available in a variety of leakage control levels.

Other reusable incontinence products include washable, adult cloth diapers or contoured cloth diapers with a plastic cover. Additionally, some people wear waterproof outer pants made of nylon, vinyl, or rubber over their undergarments as an extra level of protection.

PRODUCTS FOR MEN

Men who have problems with constantly leaking small amounts of urine may find that a drip collector may be enough. A drip collector is a small pocket of absorbent padding with a waterproof back side. The drip collector is worn over the penis and is held in place by close-fitting underwear.

Men can also use a condom catheter device. This product is placed over the penis, similar to a condom. It has a tube on the end and connects with a collection bag tied to the leg. This device can handle small or large volumes of urine with little odor, minimal skin irritation, and easy use.

Another option for men is a soft clamp called a cunningham clamp that is placed over the penis. This clamp gently keeps the urethra (the tube that carries urine out of the body) closed until it is released to allow emptying of the bladder. Although it can be uncomfortable at first, most men do adjust to it. It is reusable, so it can be more economical than other options.

BED AND CHAIR PROTECTION

Underpads are flat absorbent pads used to protect bed linens and chairs. These underpads, sometimes called Chux, are made of absorbent material with a waterproof backing. They may be disposable or reusable.

Some new products have the ability to pull moisture away from the surface. This protects your skin from breakdown. Medical supply companies and some larger department stores carry underpads.

Some people create their own reusable underpads from vinyl tablecloths with flannel backing, or shower curtain liners covered with a flannel sheet. Others place a rubber pad between layers of bed linens.

KEEP YOUR SKIN DRY

The most important consideration for any product is that it contain the urine while protecting your skin from breakdown. Don't keep a saturated pad in contact with your skin for long periods of time. Thoroughly clean and dry your skin. Remove all wet clothing and linen.

WHERE TO BUY THEM

Most of these products are available at your local drugstore, supermarket, or medical supply store. A urology nurse or enterostomal therapy nurse can provide you with a list of incontinence care products.

Also, the National Association for Continence may be able to help you locate products. Call toll-free at 1-800-BLADDER or visit the website -- www.nafc.org.


Review Date: 8/30/2009
Reviewed By: Louis S. Liou, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Urology, Department of Surgery, Boston University School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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