Three out of four people who have bowel or bladder control problems can be cured or helped to better manage their problem.
Continence products are used to manage the symptoms of poor bladder and bowel control. They may be used short term to help you while being treated or long term if the poor bladder and bowel control can’t be cured.
Continence advisors know about the broad range of products that can help manage bladder or bowel control problems. They can help you choose a product that will give you protection and confidence in your everyday life.
Your doctor or continence advisor can look for the cause of your problem and offer you some treatment. If you do nothing and just use pads or other continence products without trying treatment, your problem could get worse.
Absorbent pads and pants
Pads and pants come in a range of sizes and how much urine they can absorb. Some pads are meant to be used one time only, and then be thrown out. Some other pads and pants can be washed and used many times. You can get special mesh/net pants that keep the pads from slipping. Some pads have ‘sticky’ strips which will stick to the pants to keep the pad in place.
Absorbent bed sheets and chair covers
In these products, the top layer that sits closest to the skin lets the urine through, but stays dry while the lower layers soak up urine. They are not meant to be used at the same time as disposable pads, as they work best when the skin is in direct contact with the sheet.
Penile sheaths / external catheters
Penile sheaths are made of silicone and are mostly self adhesive and lined with non¬latex glue which sticks to the penis. The other, open end of the sheath is joined to a leg bag where urine can drain.
If the man is mobile, a leg bag can be used which is hidden under his clothes. The sheath can be joined to a two litre bag for overnight drainage. Skin reactions can be seen through the clear silicone as soon as they occur. Bags which connect to the sheath should always have wide bore tubing to let the urine flow into the bag with no backflow into the sheath which could cause it to come loose. Bags worn on the leg should be firmly fixed to the thigh or lower leg with the straps that come with the bag and emptied before they get heavy enough to pull off the sheath.
Other products to help toileting
Bedpans and urinals (male and female type) can be used if you are confined to bed. Commode chairs placed by the bed at night can help if you cannot walk to the toilet. Raised toilet seats and chairs that can be moved over the toilet can also help if you have trouble sitting on low toilets.
The best product is one that works well, is comfortable and helps you to have a normal life. When choosing a continence product, you should think about:
Continence products can be costly and in most cases you will need to pay for them yourself.
If you have permanent and severe incontinence, and meet other eligibility criteria, the national Continence Aids Payment Scheme can assist you to meet some of the costs of continence products.
The Department of Veterans’ Affairs also manages the Rehabilitation Appliances Program which you may access if you hold a Gold Card or eligible White Card.
Also, some state and territory governments provide services to support people affected by incontinence, including providing continence products. These services vary between states, and may include client assessment, education and support.
In most cases you will need to seek help from a health professional such as your doctor or continence nurse to access these services.
If you contact the National Continence Helpline you can get advice about the continence services that may be available for you.
You are not alone. Poor bladder control can be managed better if treated. If you do nothing it might get worse.
If you have any questions about bladder control, you can contact:
Expert Advisors on the National Continence Helpline for free:
On FREE CALL* 1800 33 00 66 (8 am to 8 pm Monday to Friday), or
Visit this website: www.bladderbowel.gov.au
The Helpline can arrange for an interpreter through the Telephone Interpreter Service (TIS). Please ring 13 14 50 Monday to Friday and ask for the Helpline.
Continence products can help manage bladder and bowel control problems.
* Calls from mobile telephones are charged at applicable rates.
NATIONAL CONTINENCE HELPLINE 1800 33 00 66 | www.bladderbowel.gov.au | October 2010