InterStim Therapy for Bladder Control Problems in Women

InterStim Therapy for Bladder Control Problems in Women with woman holding her bladder next to a toilet

Discussing bladder control problems with friends, family, and physicians can make most people feel uncomfortable. Worrying about bladder control can keep some people from enjoying activities they love. More than 33 million Americans deal with overactive bladder (OAB), sometimes referred to as urge incontinence. A minimally invasive procedure called InterStim therapy is a treatment option available for OAB if other non-surgical options have not worked.

First, we will discuss bladder control signs and symptoms, then conservative treatments to try, and finally discuss Interstim therapy as an option to treat bladder control problems.

Symptoms of Bladder Control Problems

  • Frequent urges to urinate (urgency-frequency)
  • Inability to hold urine/leaking (urge incontinence)
  • Inability to urinate (complete urinary retention)
  • Incomplete bladder emptying (partial urinary retention)

Conservative Treatments for Bladder Control Problems

Conservative or non-surgical treatments for bladder control problems typically come first. Some of the conservative treatment options are:

  • Kegel exercises
  • Medications
  • Physical therapy
  • Dietary and lifestyle changes

If these conservative, non-surgical treatments have not effectively treated the bladder control problems, your physician may discuss InterStim Therapy with you as an option.

What is InterStim Therapy?

InterStim Therapy, also known as sacral nerve stimulation or sacral neuromodulation, is an FDA-approved treatment for several different bladder control problems, most often for women. This therapy is completely reversible and uses a small implantable device to send mild electrical pulses to stimulate the sacral nerves. These nerves are located near the spinal cord and just above the tailbone and control the pelvic floor, urinary and anal sphincters, lower urinary tract, and colon.

InterStim Therapy can be used to treat the following bladder control problems:

  • Overactive bladder (OAB): The sudden, uncontrollable urge to urinate
  • Urinary retention: A feeling of “fullness” with an inability to fully empty the bladder
  • Urinary incontinence: The involuntary leaking of urine due to the loss of bladder control
  • Bowel or Fecal incontinence: Stool unexpectedly leaking from the rectum due to the inability to control bowel movements

InterStim Therapy is not intended to treat issues like stress incontinence or urinary blockages. Also, it is not recommended for pregnant women, those with a pacemaker, or diabetic patients.

How Does InterStim Therapy Work?

The sacral nerves control the bladder and are located near the tailbone. When these nerves do not communicate effectively with the brain, normal bladder function is disrupted. InterStim Therapy provides stimulation to these nerves called neurostimulation to communicate with the brain for increased bladder control. Neurostimulation is a reversible treatment that can be discontinued at any time by turning off or removing the device.

How is the InterStim Therapy Device Inserted?

Before the InterStim Therapy device that generates the electrical pulses is surgically implanted, the patient will have a trial period to ensure the therapy will reduce bladder control symptoms. This is the first phase of the two-phase procedure and typically takes 1 to 3 weeks. This trial period determines if InterStim Therapy is right for you. With both phases of the process, you can go home the same day but need a driver.

The trial phase takes place in a medical office or operating room. The doctor numbs a small area near the tailbone and inserts a thin, flexible needle attached to a wire placed near the sacral nerves. Once the electrical stimulation starts, a comfortable pulsing or tingling sensation is sent to the vagina or rectal regions.

An external battery is then placed on a belt that is connected to the testing wire. A handheld remote control can then adjust the level of desired stimulation. During the first phase, your doctor may ask you to keep a bladder diary to track daily urinary habits. It is essential to abstain from sexual and strenuous activity to ensure the wires stay in place during this time. The incision sites should also remain dry and the wires free from potential entanglement.

The first phase of the procedure allows you to try neurostimulation to see if it is right for you without making a long-term commitment. Suppose your symptoms are significantly reduced or eliminated during the testing period. In that case, you may benefit from long-term use of sacral nerve stimulation, and the second stage of the procedure is performed.  A permanent battery is implanted in the upper part of the buttock and is similar to a heart pacemaker’s size. Most all normal activities can be resumed within two weeks after this surgery.

What Are the Risks of InterStim Therapy?

As with any minimally invasive procedure, there may be risks, which could include:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Pain
  • Continued bladder control problems

The good news is that if, for any reason, the InterStim Therapy device can be shut off or completely removed. It is essential to share all health concerns and intentions with your doctor to determine if the device needs to be turned off. For example, if you become pregnant or are trying to become pregnant, the InterStim device would need to be shut off.

For even more information, visit: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2672997/

InterStim Therapy for bladder control problems is not suitable for everyone. There are many alternate options to help manage OAB, urge incontinence, bowel or fecal incontinence, or any other symptom you are experiencing. Personally Delivered carries a wide variety of incontinence products to help with bladder and bowel control. If you need assistance choosing what incontinence products are right for your unique needs, our friendly and knowledgeable Product Experts are here to guide you through the purchasing experience. Give us a call today. You’ll be happy you did!

Popular Bladder Control Products for Women

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Abena Abri-San Premium Shaped Bladder Control Pads

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Multiple Sclerosis and Incontinence

Multiple Sclerosis and Incontinence blog post cover with orange ribbon

Multiple Sclerosis and incontinence often are experienced together. The central nervous system controls many functions throughout the body, such as walking, thinking, and controlling various muscles. Multiple Sclerosis can cause damage to the central nervous system and produce a variety of symptoms, including vision loss, muscle stiffness, or even bladder and bowel dysfunction.

What is Multiple Sclerosis?

mend and women exhibiting different symptoms of multiple sclerosisMultiple Sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease that affects cells in the central nervous system. For those with MS, not only is their immune system defending harmful bacteria and viruses again, but it is also attacking their body. Electrical signals are sent throughout the body by the central nervous system to control almost everything we do, and MS disrupts these electrical signals.

Those with MS can experience a wide range of symptoms, and this disease affects everyone differently. Although most of the symptoms are not visible to others, some are and can worsen over time.

Common Symptoms of MS

  • Walking problems
  • Vision problems
  • Bladder and bowel dysfunction
  • Fatigue
  • Cognitive difficulties (attention, learning, and memory)
  • Mood changes
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Numbness and tingling
  • Pain in arms and legs
  • Hot and cold sensitivity
  • Weakness or poor coordination

How Multiple Sclerosis Can Affect the Bladder and Bowels

There is a coating on the nerve endings called the myelin sheath that protects the nerve cells. When the myelin sheath is damaged due to multiple sclerosis, electrical impulses transmit to the brain much slower. This nerve damage affects how the body interprets signals between the brain and the bladder and bowel. Coordination of the muscles that control holding and emptying the bladder and the bowels is disrupted, leading the incontinence.

Bowel or fecal incontinence can result from weak sphincter muscles from MS or can be from constipation. When a person is constipated from MS, it can be from the medication or lack of mobility and lead to overflow incontinence.

Some of the various types of incontinence a person with Multiple Sclerosis may experience are:

Overflow Incontinence

When the bladder does not fully empty, urine can leak. Those with overflow incontinence from MS are unable to squeeze the muscles needed to empty the bladder due to nerve and muscle damage.

Urge Incontinence

When a person feels a sudden urge to use the restroom and has to rush to get there, they are experiencing urge incontinence. The nerves linked to the bladder have been damaged with MS and cannot communicate quickly enough to the brain.

Stress Incontinence

When usually going about your day and having an unintentional loss of urine, you experience stress incontinence. You may also notice this leakage when you sneeze, cough, laugh, or lift something heavy. The pelvic floor muscles have weakened from MS, so stress incontinence is often experienced.

Constipation

When you are not emptying the bowels as often as you usually would is one of the signs of constipation. Some medications can often cause constipation that lasts for days and be very painful. Abdominal bloating, decreased appetite, and fatigue are all signs that you may be constipated, and you should speak to your doctor about treatment.

Fecal Incontinence

Fecal incontinence or bowel incontinence is when a person cannot control regular bowel movements. When the sphincter muscles are damaged from multiple sclerosis, the ability to delay emptying the bowels is disrupted.

Treatment Options for Incontinence Related to Multiple Sclerosis

Treatment options are available to help improve incontinence for those with multiple sclerosis. There are many conservative methods. However, if those are not effective, then there are medications available. If incontinence symptoms are more severe, you may be recommended surgery as a last resort to improve your quality of life.

Conservative Treatments for Incontinence

Diet and Lifestyle

Bladder and bowel health is critical when it comes to incontinence. Eating a well-balanced diet that consists of fiber and plenty of fluids can help with regular bowel movements and avoid constipation. Fluids like carbonated beverages, caffeine, and alcohol can irritate the bladder, so it is best to avoid them.

Establishing a Routine

Establishing a routine can help to avoid accidents. It might help to go to use the bathroom every few hours and after every meal. Keeping a pattern of eating and drinking at the exact times can also help. In the evening, make sure to have your last drink two hours before bed. This practice may help avoid an overnight accident.

Retraining the Bladder or Bowels

Bowel retraining and bladder retraining is a treatment for incontinence that can work well for those with persistent diarrhea, constipation, or nerve damage due to MS. With bowel retraining, the goal is to aim for consistency of the stool and regularity of the movements. Gradually increasing the time between bowel movements, you are retraining the sphincter muscles, which may help make it easier to hold on.

When retraining the bladder, this process also involves gradually increasing the amount of time between each visit to the bathroom. Both bowel and bladder retraining takes time and patience. Many people find that keeping a Bladder Journal or Bowel Journal can help. This journal can also be shared with your doctor to determine a treatment plan.

Incontinence Products

Assortment of incontinence productsToday, there are many incontinence products on the market that are designed to address light to severe urinary or fecal incontinence. These incontinence products can help provide more comfort, security, and protection for your clothing, bedding, furniture, and auto.

Incontinence products are available in a wide variety of absorbency levels, sizes, and styles. And, these products are offered for all genders and ages. Some of the categories include:

  • Incontinence Protective Underwear resemble regular underwear and offer more traditional and discreet protection.
  • Incontinence Briefs are also called adult diapers with refastenable tabs. This incontinence product is a more secure and absorbent option.
  • Incontinence Liners and Pads are generally used for light to moderate incontinence and are inserted into regular underwear as an added layer of protection.
  • Incontinence Belted Undergarments are much longer than a typical pad and feature a belt for additional security.
  • Incontinence Bed Pads, Underpads, and Chux are an excellent option to protect everything from your bed, furniture, car seat, or use as a puppy potty training pad.
  • Incontinence Clamps are used to help treat urinary incontinence in men. This device blocks the flow of urine. Many men use them to control urinary incontinence after prostate surgery, obesity, old age, or those who have diabetes.

Visit our Incontinence Product page for more information and to order these products. Our caring, specially trained Product Advisors can help you decide which option is most suitable for you.

Intermittent Catheters

collage of intermittent and Foley cathetersWhen a person cannot fully empty their bladder independently, they may be given the option to use an intermittent catheter.  By using an intermittent catheter, it can help eliminate overflow incontinence. A thin, flexible tube is into the urethra to drain urine out of the bladder. All catheters are designed to be sterile, one-time-use, and require a valid prescription from a physician. There are various types of catheters available, and depending on your unique needs, your doctor will know what is best for you.

Foley Catheters or Indwelling Catheters

Depending on the circumstance, a Foley catheter or indwelling catheter is inserted into the bladder and remains there for either a short or prolonged period. A balloon filled with sterile water is incorporated near the tip of the catheter tube. Once the catheter is inserted and inflated, this balloon prevents the Foley catheter from slipping out of place. Typically, a leg bag or urine drainage bag is connected to this type of indwelling catheter.

Percutaneous Tibial Nerve Stimulation

A treatment method that directly stimulates the nerves responsible for bladder and bowel control is called Percutaneous Tibial Nerve Stimulation (PTNS) and can treat incontinence. The tibial nerve is near the ankle, and during PTNS, a small needle connected to a stimulator device is inserted at this point. Impulses travel up the spine and target nerves in the spinal cord to retrain the bladder and pelvic floor muscle function. Some MS patients have found this helpful.

Using Medicine to Treat Incontinence

Laxatives

Sunmark ClearlaxMultiple sclerosis can leave some immobile, which can lead to constipation and ultimately overflow incontinence. Over-the-counter laxatives are available to help treat incontinence and come in various options such as suppositories, powders, and liquids. Laxatives are usually fast-acting to provide relief for irregularities. Make sure to you speak to your doctor or pharmacist about which type of laxative is best to use.

Antidiarrheal Medication

Antidiarrheals work to slow down the production of loose stool or diarrhea. Over-the-counter medications such as Imodium are available for purchase to help with the discomfort of repeated liquid bowel movements. However, it is essential to note that an underlying issue causes diarrhea, and these medications may offer only temporary relief.

Anal Irrigation and Enemas

Anal irrigation or rectal irrigation is a method that involves emptying the bowel by using a specialized pump, water, and irrigation tube. Anal irrigation is an effective alternative to conservative treatments like suppositories and laxatives. Anal irrigation can help manage chronic constipation and fecal incontinence.

Enemas are a quick, easy, and fast-acting treatment used to clear impaction from severe constipation. Using enema products involves administering a solution such as water and sodium phosphate to clear the bowel.

Antispasmodic Medications

Spasms of the bladder muscle can often be treated by the use of antispasmodic medications. These medications work to relax the muscles of the gut. They can help reduce urge incontinence associated with MS. Antispasmodic medications belong to a group of medicines known as antimuscarinic or anticholinergic drugs. A doctor must prescribe these medications as they are not suitable or safe for some people.

Injectable Therapies

Injectable therapies are available as a treatment that includes the non-surgical injection of a “bulking” material into the urethra to improve leakage. This material thickens the tissues, which then prevents soiling and improves bladder control.

Surgical Treatments for Incontinence

Suprapubic Catheters

As an alternative form of long-term catheterization, a suprapubic catheter can be used to treat incontinence. This type of catheter involves a minor surgical procedure to place a tube directly into your bladder through your abdomen. The suprapubic catheter can then be attached to a leg bag or urinary drainage bag to collect urine. It can be more comfortable than a Foley catheter and may be less likely to cause infection.

Botox

Botox is a potent neurotoxin that causes muscle paralysis by blocking the electrical impulses to a nerve. This type of incontinence treatment is relatively new in terms of treating an overactive bladder. If all other medications have failed to improve your condition, Botox may be a considered treatment by your doctor.

Bladder Augmentation

If medications and conservative treatments have failed to treat your incontinence, your doctor may discuss a bladder augmentation surgery may be an option. There are several ways this operation can be performed, but it is considered major surgery and involves cutting the bladder open. If you consider this option with your doctor, it is essential to ask as many questions as possible and take notes of your conversation.

Sacral Nerve Stimulation

Sacral Nerve Stimulation or Sacral Neuromodulation (SNM) can help restore normal bladder or bowel function by addressing the communication between the brain and the bladder and bowel. A device is implanted under the skin in the upper buttock. This device helps correct the messages that run along the nerve pathways that may be causing incontinence symptoms. As with other incontinence surgical treatment options, it should only be considered after medication and conservative incontinence treatment options have been exhausted.

Colostomy

For those with Multiple Sclerosis and incontinence, if fecal incontinence is severe, constipation is brought on from immobility, or dexterity issues have developed, your doctor may recommend a bowel diversion in the form of a colostomy. A small incision is made in the abdomen, and a section of the colon is pulled to the surface, forming a stoma. The stoma is an artificial opening that an ostomy skin barrier and ostomy pouch attaches to for waste collection. Colostomies may be temporary or permanent, so this treatment is typically considered in severe cases where all other treatment options have failed.

Where to Buy Incontinence Products

shop on Personally Delivered website, save an additional 5%, earn 3% cash back at teh end of the year based on purchasesWe carry a wide variety of incontinence products at Personally Delivered by many trusted brands like Attends, PBE Tranquility, Prevail, First Quality, Depend, and more. Incontinence is not the same for everyone, and that is why we have Product Advisors to help you navigate the purchasing process based on your unique needs.

Not only do we offer a wide range of incontinence products by absorbency, size, and style, we can help make it easy for you to get the products you need to be delivered right to your door when you need them. With our Automatic Delivery Program, you will save an additional 5% on each shipment and get 3% back at the end of the year. There is no commitment, it is hassle-free, and you can cancel at any time.

What Resources Are Available for Those Affected by MS?

For those affected by Multiple Sclerosis and incontinence, there are many resources available.

Multiple Sclerosis and incontinence often go hand-in-hand, but as you can see, there are many options available for treatment. We are here for all of your incontinence needs at Personally Delivered. If you need assistance choosing the right incontinence products for your unique situation, our Product Experts are just a phone call away.

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Cancer Screenings: Your Essential Guide

your essential guide to cancer screenings with a family walking on the beach

Cancer screenings can help detect cancer in the early stages or before you begin to have symptoms. By detecting cancer early, you may give yourself a better chance of surviving and thriving. Keeping up with preventive screenings that your doctor recommends is key to catching potential issues such as breast, cervical, prostate, endometrial, and colorectal cancer before they turn into something worse.

Who determines when to get screened?

Created in 1984, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) is an independent, volunteer panel of national experts in prevention and evidence-based medicine. The Task Force works to improve all Americans’ health by making evidence-based recommendations about clinical preventive services such as screenings, counseling services, and preventive medications.

Task Force members come from a wide array of medical-related fields. That history of experience can be from primary care, internal medicine, family medicine, pediatrics, behavioral health, obstetrics and gynecology, and nursing. This team rigorously reviews existing peer-reviewed evidence to make recommendations for screenings. This process can help primary care clinicians and patients decide whether a preventive service is right for a patient’s needs.

Cancer Screening Guidelines

The following cancer screening guidelines are for people who have an average risk for cancer. If you have an increased risk due to your family history, you may need screenings earlier or more often. It would be best to speak to your doctor to see what’s right for you.

Breast Cancer Screenings

two women holding pink ribbons showing their support of breast cancer screeningsYearly mammograms are the best way to detect breast cancer’s early stages when it is easier to treat. The USPSTF recommends women to get mammograms at the following ages:

Ages 45 to 54: once every year

Ages 55 and older: once every other year

It is important to note that women with a heightened breast cancer risk should ask their doctors about the risks and benefits of an annual MRI and mammogram.

Cervical Cancer Screenings

The Pap test can find abnormal cells in the cervix, which may turn into cancer. The human papillomavirus (HPV) test looks for the virus that can cause these cell changes. The chance of being cured is very high when the Pap tests find cervical cancer early.

The USPSTF recommends women to get a Pap test at the following ages:

Ages 21 to 29: once every three years

Ages 30 to 65:

  • once every three years
  • an HPV test once every five years
  • or a Pap test and an HPV test once every five years

Women older than 65: Those with normal screenings and who do not have a high risk for cervical cancer may not need screening.

Colorectal Cancer Screenings

doctor in a lab testing cancer screening samplesThe American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends people with an average risk for colorectal cancer start regular cancer screenings at age 45. Simultaneously, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) advises beginning screening at age 50. Those with an increased risk for colorectal cancer due to family history may need to get cancer screenings at an earlier age.

Discuss with your doctor which of the following tests are recommended by the USPSTF:

Endometrial Cancer Screenings

anatomy of the female uterus when detecting endometrial cancer in cancer screeningsEndometrial cancer forms in the lining of the uterus. By early detection and surgical removal of the uterus, endometrial cancer is often cured. After reaching menopause, women who have abnormal bleeding or spotting should tell their doctors. Your doctor may order cancer screenings to help detect endometrial cancer.

Prostate Cancer Screenings

When men reach the ages of 55 to 69, the USPSTF recommends discussing the potential benefits and risks of prostate cancer screenings with their physicians to help make informed decisions. After the age of 70, the USPSTF advises against men getting screened.

At Personally Delivered, we hope your lifelong health journey never includes a cancer diagnosis. Whatever your age or medical history, maintaining an open and close relationship with your physician will help keep track of your long-term health.

Many of these types of cancers may require the use of catheters, incontinence products, and skin care needs. These may be a temporary need or one that is long-term. We carry a wide array of these home delivery medical supplies and can help you find the ones your doctor recommends that are right for you. Our friendly, knowledgeable, and compassionate Product Experts will help make your purchasing selection as easy as possible.

All recommendations for cancer screenings and more detailed information from the USPSTF can be found directly on their site.

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Having a Spinal Cord Injury and Regaining Independence

man in wheelchair smiling and raising his fist in success

A spinal cord injury is an often disabling medical condition caused by damage to the spinal cord or the nerves near the end of the spinal cord. Depending on the location of the injury on the spine, paralysis can occur in some if not all parts of the body. The higher the injury location on the spine, the more assistance a person most likely will need.

Becoming disabled after a spinal cord injury can truly be devastating. However, many individuals – even with high levels of paralysis, such as quadriplegics, go on to be extremely successful and productive members of society. Many also have relationships, including marriage and children.

Managing Life at Home After a Spinal Cord Injury

The biggest concern for anyone who has a spinal cord injury is how they will manage it. This thought happens most often in the early stages of their recovery. When I had my spinal cord injury, I couldn’t do much for myself either. After having a back fusion surgery where rods were surgically placed all the way down my spine, I had to wear a TSO cast that encased my entire upper torso. It gave time for the rods to fuse with my spine. During this time, I was under many restrictions, such as when I wasn’t wearing it, I had to remain in bed and could not even turn myself. After twelve weeks, I was completely free from wearing this cast, but I still couldn’t lift more than five pounds.

As much as I appreciated all this attention to detail, my biggest concern was that I had infant children. My youngest was a newborn who had never been less than five pounds. So, I had no choice but to hire help. It was the only way I was going to have any chance of working on myself. I hired a nanny to live with me to take care of the baby at night. During the day, they went to daycare.

I was in a rental wheelchair when I went home from rehab. I was also sleeping in a hospital bed until the orthopedic surgeon felt it was safe for me to sleep in my own bed. Before I had left rehab, I had hired a home health aid. She wasn’t trained in personal care, such as bladder and bowel incontinence, but she was willing to learn, so the rehab facility taught her. She helped me shower, take care of my bathroom needs at home, dressed me, and helped me into my wheelchair. Once I was in the wheelchair, I was at least mobile.

Then, I learned to drive. I received assistance from DARS, now known as Texas Workforce. They helped pay for the hand controls installed in my car and the lessons to learn how to drive a modified vehicle.

Going Back to Work After a Spinal Cord Injury

woman in a wheelchair working on a computerLater on, when I chose to go back to college, Texas Workforce helped pay for courses and books that I needed. When I got further education to write for teenagers and children, they continued to help me achieve my ultimate goal to be a full-time writer. I chose to work from home, so with their help, I had my office set up with adaptive equipment, including an ‘uplift desk.’ There was no excuse for me to not be productive, so I went to work.

Going back to work after my spinal cord injury was one of the best decisions I could have made for myself, along with learning to drive. The sense of independence I felt was heaven sent. Within months, my confidence as a writer grew. With continuous physical therapy, I also gained upper body strength to take care of my own needs.

I wasn’t shy about seeking psychological help either. I was grieving the loss of my legs and how my spinal cord injury affected my life after that. Everything changed for me, and I could either sink or swim.

Regaining Independence After My Spinal Cord Injury

After my youngest reached four years old, I let go of the nanny. That had been one of the many goals I had set for myself. So from that point on, I was taking care of my two children alone.

I’ve always said that life is about choices, but my thought process became warped when I had my injury. Eventually, I gained hope, which ultimately gave me the strength to keep moving forward. I went on to marry again and have another child. Through all of this, I have learned I needed no help this time around caring for my third child.

What I Learned on My Journey to Independence

group with disabilities from spinal cord injury sharing a beer and playing gamesWhat I have learned the most throughout my self-discovery journey is that there are some really nice people in the world. One of them I married, and the others are my closest friends. I also found that the more I do, the more respect I gain from those who don’t quite understand my disability from my spinal cord injury. However, what they see is a self-sufficient, strong, confident mother of three who happens to be in a wheelchair.

If you or someone you care for has a disability due to a spinal cord injury or any other medical condition, some of the mobility and adaptive equipment and incontinence products we carry may help in everyday life. For more resources, help to find support, and to read other’s stories, the United Spinal Association is a great place to start.

If you have any questions or need more information on the home delivery medical supplies we offer, our Product Experts are just a phone call away and ready to assist.

About the Author

Meena Dhanjal Outlaw

On January 23, 2000, Meena suffered a spinal cord injury that left her a T12 paraplegic. She worked hard to grow and push past adversity and challenges and even went back to school for a four-year diploma in writing for teenagers and children.

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Top 10 Incontinence Products for Seniors

elderly man grinning at a woman on a swing

According to research, more than 50% of elderly Americans suffer from incontinence, whether it be bladder or bowel related. Incontinence is not only a physical medical condition; it can also affect people mentally, emotionally, and financially. The cost of incontinence products for seniors can add up, and you could be caught off guard if you aren’t prepared.

We have compiled a list of what we think are the ten most useful incontinence products for seniors. Consider some or all of these incontinence supplies the next time you shop for yourself or a loved one to keep ample inventory levels on hand.

1. Briefs/Diapers

Attends Premier Briefs in a bag available in sizes medium to extra largeBecause briefs or diapers can be changed without removing all clothing articles, they are a preferred choice by many seniors. Briefs are for those needing a more secure and absorbent option and sometimes referred to as adult diapers. These one-piece incontinence garments feature re-fastenable tabs that make readjustment easy for a tight fit. Incontinence briefs also come in daytime or nighttime absorbencies depending on what level is needed. The Attends Premier Brief is an excellent incontinence product for seniors that offers both daytime and overnight protection.

2. Protective Underwear or Pull-Ups

Protective briefs or pull-ups are one-piece garments made to be easily pulled on and off and are an excellent incontinence product for seniors that are looking for more traditional and discreet protection. Offered in absorbencies for both day and night protection, protective underwear also provides odor control and moisture-wicking to remain comfortable and dry.

3. Underpads/Bed Pads/Chux

Available in various colors, materials, designs, and absorbency levels, underpads, bed pads, or chux, provide the extra protection needed to absorb leakage, reduce odors, and control bacteria. Instead of doubling up on protective underwear and mattress covers, an underpad can deliver the required absorbency on its own. Underpads can also be used to protect furniture, car seats, and even as pet potty training pads.

4. Liners/Pads

Incontinence pads and liners in a collageLiners, panty liners, or pads are placed inside regular underwear with their adhesive strip and are used for light to moderate urinary incontinence. Liners and pads are an economical incontinence product for seniors that do not have heavy leakage. On the other hand, booster pads are added to a disposable brief for an added layer of protection for those with moderate to heavy incontinence.

5. Fecal Pads

Fecal incontinence padsThe Butterfly Body Patch by Attends is an excellent fecal incontinence pad or bowel incontinence pads are designed for those who suffer from Accidental Bowel Leakage (ABL) and are looking for a bowel leakage product that absorbs fluids and odors while being discreet. Many people are unaware of such a product and resort to using a regular bladder pad for bowel incontinence protection. Those with fecal incontinence require a disposable bowel leakage product, as the use of washable products is not an option. Fecal or bowel incontinence pads such as the Butterfly Body Patch, are specifically shaped to fit in and around the buttocks and are designed to absorb liquids and hold the stool in place. These bowel incontinence products are not as absorbent as traditional incontinence pads, so they hold less fluid.

6. Mattress Cover

Using a mattress cover is another incontinence product for seniors that protects the mattress from incontinence leaks, accidental spills, and unwanted stains. Mattress covers such as the Salk Prima Vinyl Mattress Cover, fit just like a fitted bed sheet, covering the entire mattress, and can also protect against bacteria and some allergens. Mattress protectors may also defend against bacteria and some allergens. Because mattress covers are made of water-resistant materials, they extend the mattress’s life. This handy feature can also protect your health. When fluids enter the mattress’s core, bacteria breeds, and dust mites thrive in these warm, damp environments. Investing in a quality mattress cover as one of the top incontinence products for seniors can be beneficial for many reasons.

7. Skin Care

The entire area of the body covered by an incontinence product is at risk for skin irritation. If the skin has become wet or chaffed, the incontinence product either incorrectly fits the wearer or is not the right absorbency. With effective skin moisturizers, creams, and ointments, the sensitive perineal skin can stay healthy and clean.

8. Personal Care Wipes

Aloe Vesta Bathing Cloths in a pouch are perfect as a no-rinse cleansing optionWith all the personal hygiene products available, personal care wipes are the most convenient incontinence product for seniors. Using personal care wipes is not only a quicker and easier option than paper towels or cloths; they are also the most versatile cleaning product around. Wipes are compact enough for travel and an inexpensive way to keep yourself and the surfaces around you clean throughout the day.  When there isn’t a water source available, using personal care wipes can be used to quickly remove dirt and germs from the hands and face as well as a toilet paper alternative.

9. Penis Clamp

As men age, they may experience difficulty controlling their urinary leakage when lifting, coughing, or straining. They may also have leakage or dribbling of urine due to other urinary problems such as prostate cancer. A penis clamp is an incontinence product for seniors that puts light pressure on the urethra and helps control urine leaking. They are a cost-effective way to help manage stress incontinence in men and worth having around for convenience and travel.

10. Adult Swim Brief

In the summer months, enjoying the pool can be difficult for those that suffer from incontinence.  With adult swim briefs such as the Swimmates Adult Reusable Diapers, pool-time can be worry-free. These snug-fitting, stretchy, and lightweight incontinence briefs are made specifically to fit underneath a swimsuit. Adult swim briefs are also machine washable and reusable, so they are budget-friendly when choosing this kind of incontinence product for seniors.

Stocking up on the essential incontinence products for seniors is important when managing an incontinence condition. Not being prepared with the necessary incontinence supplies when you need them, most can be frustrating. You can rest easy with a little preparation, knowing that you don’t need to run out in an emergency to get the incontinence supplies you need.

For any questions about the incontinence products we carry, our Personally Delivered Product Experts are just a phone call away and ready to assist. Being prepared never felt so good!

Related Incontinence Products

Prevail Air Heavy Absorbency Briefs

Prevail Air Briefs in a bag are a heavy absorbency option

Personally Delivered Overnight Protective Underwear

Personally Delivered Overnight Protective Underwear

Cardinal Health Quilted Premium MVP Underpads, Wings

Cardinal Health Quilted Premium MVP Underpad

Hollister Extended-Wear Self-Adhesive Male External Catheter

The Hollister Extended-Wear Self-Adhesive Male External Catheter
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Toms River, NJ
The people at Personally Delivered have always been very friendly and helpful. They make it comfortable and easy to order my supplies.

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Customer Service is the BEST! Your reps really care and are always finding ways to make things as easy as possible!

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Urinary Supplies for Healthy Urine Flow

Woman with hands made into a heart shape around her bladder

The human body processes waste in a couple of ways, one of which is through urine. The urethra, kidneys, and bladder make up the urinary system, and keeping excretion of fluids flowing is essential to your overall health. There are some essential urinary supplies that can help contribute to a healthy urine flow.

How the Urinary System Functions

A healthy urinary system starts with the kidneys. We have two kidneys on either side of the body just beneath our ribs. The kidneys filter out waste products as urine through tubes called ureters that connect to the bladder. The bladder then holds the urine until it signals that it is full and needs emptying. Attached to the bladder is the urethra, which is the tube that extends to the outside of the body. In men, the urethra is approximately 8 inches (20 cm), and in women, the urethra is about 1 ½ inches (4 cm). A small muscle called the sphincter controls when the urine empties from the bladder.

Image of the human body detailing where the kidneys and bladder are located

Common Problems Within the Urinary System

At times, the urinary system can get disrupted by invading bacteria, certain illnesses, or aging muscles. When this happens, certain urinary system functions do not work correctly, and the body responds with inflammation, a urinary tract, bladder, or kidney infection, or urinary incontinence, to name a few.

Image of the kidneys showing where to contribute to a urinary tract infectionbacteria enters

Although there are many options to treat specific urinary system problems, it is crucial to know the incontinence and urological supplies available to adequately address these urinary issues. Your doctor should provide you with a list of the urinary supplies to help manage your unique needs.

Issues that May Cause a Need for Urinary Supplies

When one part or all of the urinary system’s functioning gets disrupted, it can result in various medical conditions that may lead to the need for urinary supplies.

Some of the potential causes of urinary incontinence or bladder retention may include:

  • Spinal cord injury
  • Spina bifida
  • Stroke or brain injury
  • Aging
  • Surgery
  • Injury
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Autism
  • Bladder or prostate cancer
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • And more

Although there are many treatment options available for these widely varying conditions, it’s crucial to know about the urinary supplies that can adequately address your issues and manage any symptoms such as urine leakage, lack of urine flow, and more. Your doctor should provide you with their suggestions for urinary supplies, catheter products, incontinence pads, or other options to help manage your unique needs.

Urinary Supplies to Know About

Catheters as Urinary Supplies

A hand holding the tip of a urinary catheter

One of the most essential urinary supplies for certain people who have bladders that no longer function properly is the urinary catheter. A catheter’s job is to drain and collect urine from the bladder when a person can no longer void urine from the bladder naturally. Catheters can be made of different types of material such as silicone, latex, or polyurethane and may also come pre-lubricated or require additional lubrication. They also vary in various lengths to accommodate the different urethral sizes between ages and genders.

An external catheter is a non-invasive catheter option that’s ideal for men with urinary incontinence. The external catheter, sometimes called a condom catheter or Texas catheter, does not insert into the bladder but instead fits over the male penis much like a condom to collect leaking urine.

Having an ample supply of urinary catheters is a good idea since you shouldn’t reuse them. Also, you won’t want to run out of catheters if you need to catheterize multiple times a day.

Urinary Drainage Bags

KenGuard urinary drainage bag with tubingurinary drainage bag is primarily used to collect urine from a catheter, which is either external or internally inserted in the bladder. Some catheters, such as a Foley catheter or external catheter, are connected to a urinary drainage bag secured to the leg called a urinary leg bag. Others may prefer a type of urinary drainage bag that you can easily hang from a hook on a wheelchair or bedside. Many different sizes, brands, and styles of urinary drainage bags are available depending on the specific requirements. Urinary leg bags and urinary drainage bags come with flip or twist valves and come in both disposable and reusable styles.

Leg Bag Straps and Holders

Wearing a urinary leg bag doesn’t have to be uncomfortable. Many urinary leg bags come with long, awkward, latex straps that don’t seem to secure the bag just the way you would like. Fabric urinary leg bag straps can be more comfortable, economical, and minimize skin irritation. Velcro or button fasteners allow for easy adjustment of the straps for individual requirements. Fabric urinary leg bag straps with a velcro or button closure can eliminate bruising, pressure sores, pulled hair, circulation restriction, and burns caused by rubber latex straps.

A urinary leg bag holder on a man's leg shown as a wrapUrinary leg bag holders fit like a sleeve that slides up the leg to hold the urinary drainage bag without straps, such as the Urocare Urinary Leg Bag. The simple sleeve style provides a soft fit around the leg or thigh, resulting in a comfortable and discreet profile. Most urinary leg bag holders will accommodate various urinary drainage bags, but it is always wise to take measurements to make sure they will work together. Sticking with the same manufacturer for your urinary drainage bag and your leg bag straps or holders can help take out the guesswork of making sure they are compatible.

Lubricating Jelly and Wipes

Packets of 3 gram and 5 gram Surgilube catheter lubricantIf you are using an uncoated catheter (not pre-lubricated or hydrophilic), lubricating jelly is a must for making catheterization more comfortable and smooth. Using a catheter lubricant can not only help minimize friction, but it will also reduce the chances of urethral damage upon insertion. Catheter lubricants are sterile, greaseless, and water-soluble for easy clean-up and are available in tubes or foil packets for on-the-go convenience.

Having a supply of personal wipes will come in handy when cleaning up after self-catheterization when emptying a urinary drainage bag, or handling anything related to an incontinence episode.

Other Incontinence Supplies

Small image of a bed pad, personal pad, and a bag of Personally Delivered Daytime Protective UnderwearProtective underwear, incontinence briefs, urinary incontinence pads, and other urinary incontinence supplies can be essential for those living with incontinence or leakage. These products are designed to address light to severe urinary incontinence episodes and are available in various sizes, styles, and absorbencies. Preparation can help ensure you have enough incontinence supplies to help reduce the risk of worsening your condition and lead a healthy and dignified lifestyle.

For any questions about the catheters, incontinence products, or urinary supplies we offer, our Personally Delivered Product Experts are just a phone call away and ready to assist.

Popular Catheter & Urinary Supplies

ConvaTec Urine Night Drainage Container Set System

ConvaTec nighttime urine drainage container with tubing and adapter

McKesson Urinary Leg Bag with Anti-Reflux Valve

McKesson 1000 mL urinary leg bag with anti-reflux valve

GentleCath Glide Male Catheter

GentleCath Glide Male catheter in size 14 French and is 16 inches long

Surgilube Surgical Lubricant (Flip-top Cap)

Surgilube 4.5 ounce tube ideal for catheter lubricant
Personally Delivered- home

Urinary Incontinence and Mental Health

woman sitting indian style in the park on a blanket in a meditation pose

Mental health is essential at every stage of life and affects how we think, feel, and act because it includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. Trying to manage a urinary incontinence condition can leave one feeling mentally exhausted. Experiencing a urinary incontinence accident in public can be highly embarrassing and potentially lead to psychological consequences.

The Basics About Urinary Incontinence

Urinary incontinence is also referred to as bladder leakage and is a more common condition that most often comes with age. The involuntary loss of urine is not a disease itself but rather a symptom of another underlying condition.

There are three types of urinary incontinence:

  1. Stress incontinence occurs when urine leaks happen when you cough, sneeze, jump, or laugh, due to weakened pelvic floor muscles.
  2. Urge incontinence, also called overactive bladder, typically occurs in older men and women. When the bladder muscles weaken or its urine-holding capacity decreases, the bladder uncontrollably contracts, causing an intense urge to urinate, resulting in leaks.
  3. Mixed incontinence is a combination of both urge and stress incontinence.

Common underlying conditions that cause urinary incontinence:

  1. Pregnancy can cause hormonal changes, and the additional weight on the bladder can lead to stress incontinence.
  2. Aging of the bladder muscle can decrease its capacity to hold urine.
  3. An enlarged prostate gland can cause the bladder muscle to malfunction and lead to urge incontinence.
  4. A hysterectomy involves removing the uterus, which may damage the supporting pelvic floor muscles, leading to urinary incontinence. 
  5. Neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, Multiple sclerosis, a spinal cord injury, or a stroke can cause interference with the nervous system and throw nerve signals involved in bladder control out of whack, causing urinary incontinence.

The Importance of Mental Health and Wellness

woman standing next to a tree with purple flowers breathing in the fresh airMental health is essential to living a healthy, balanced life and determines how we handle our lives’ stressors. It also impacts the relationships we form with others and the choices and decisions we make daily. Our thinking, mood, and behaviors can be affected throughout our lives if we experience mental health problems. Being emotionally healthy can help promote productivity and effectiveness in activities like work or caregiving.

The Connection Between Urinary Incontinence and Mental Health

Because urinary incontinence can feel embarrassing for some, it can often lead to depression and anxiety. On the flip side, if you are suffering from depression and anxiety, your urinary incontinence could be the precursor to urinary incontinence. 

Those who suffer from urinary incontinence might experience a considerable impact on their dignity and self-confidence. The physical discomfort and psychological effects can lead to isolation to avoid possible embarrassment in social situations. Outings, parties, and other regular social activities that were once enjoyed may become challenging to handle for fear of having an accident in public. The greater the urinary incontinence condition is can likely contribute to a greater degree of depression.

Signs of a Mental Health Concern

If you or someone you know are struggling with a urinary incontinence condition, there are some signs to watch out for that may suggest you need some professional guidance. Remember, good mental health is essential for your entire mind and body to function at its optimal level.

woman experiencing stress while looking in the mirrorSome signs of mental health issues are:

  • Overly tired with low energy
  • Sleeping problems
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Missed work or appointments
  • Decreased enjoyment of life
  • Inability to think or concentrate
  • Isolation from family and friends
  • Notable changes in eating habits
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Suicidal thoughts or behaviors

Mental illness can be temporary or last a long time but is critical to address. It is essential to pay attention to any of these changes and contact your doctor or therapist for treatment. If you or anyone you know have displayed suicidal thoughts or behaviors, get help right away. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) or use the chat function at suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat

At-Home Treatment for Urinary Incontinence

As we mentioned earlier, urinary incontinence can be caused by various factors such as pregnancy, an enlarged prostate, or a neurological condition, to name a few. However, there are ways to manage urinary incontinence right from your own home.

  • Kegel exercises, or pelvic floor exercises, can help strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. When the pelvic floor muscles are in shape, the uterus and bladder are appropriately supported to prevent accidental urinary leaks.
  • Diet plays a role in the severity of a urinary incontinence condition. A poor diet lacking proper nutrients can lead to an aggravated urinary tract. Avoiding foods and beverages like caffeine, alcohol, artificial sweeteners, and some spicy foods may improve your symptoms. And remember to drink plenty of water to flush your system.
  • Bladder training can help lengthen the time between trips to the restroom until you are only urinating every 2-4 hours. Keeping a bladder journal is a helpful tool that can help you and your doctor better understand your condition.
  • assortment of incontinence padsUrinary incontinence products help manage your condition no matter how much absorbency you require. There are various urinary incontinence products available for light, moderate, and maximum absorbencies and different styles for activity types. You can learn more and read in-depth information about incontinence pads, absorbency levels, styles, and even how to choose the correct size and fit on our All About Incontinence Pads blog post.

Good mental health is essential for us to be balanced emotionally, physically, and psychologically. Urinary incontinence, combined with poor mental health, is worse than either condition alone. It is imperative to treat both of these conditions as early as possible to avoid a significant impact on your health and quality of life.

For any questions related to the incontinence products we carry or for more information related to urinary incontinence, our Personally Delivered Product Experts are just a phone call away and ready to help. For more serious concerns related to the signs of poor mental health we outlined above, immediately contact your doctor or therapist.

Urinary Incontinence Products

Abena Abri-Flex Premium Pull-On Protective Underwear (L2)

Abena Abri-Flex Premium Protective Underwear

Depend Guards for Men

Depend Guards for Men

Attends Shaped Day Pads Day Plus

Attends Shaped Pads Day Plus

First Quality Incognito Maxi Feminine Pads

First Quality Incognito Maxi Feminine Pad
Personally Delivered- home

The Challenges of Caregiving

Doctor speaking to her patient on a couch and offering reassurance

As the population ages, caregiving is being provided more and more by people other than healthcare professionals such as family members or other close friends. Often, these family members or friends do not refer to themselves as a formal “caregiver” and therefore do not think about the support they also need in this role.

A lot of time and energy goes into caregiving, which may lead to a caregiver to neglect their own needs. Making time for self-care can be a challenge for many caregivers. If you are a caregiver, it is essential to preserve your health and well-being. Caring for a loved one can put a strain on even the most resilient people.

A Caregiver Defined

elderly woman looking off in the distance next to a sign that says 5.7 million Americans are living with Alzheimer'sA caregiver is someone who provides basic care to someone that has a chronic medical condition, an illness that lasts for a long time or doesn’t go away.

Examples of some chronic conditions include:

  • Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia
  • Any cancer
  • Arthritis
  • The after-effects of a stroke or injury
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Diabetes

The caregiver helps the person with many tasks such as meal preparation, eating, shopping, cleaning, administering medicine, bathing, and dressing. Above all, two of the most important things a caregiver provides is companionship and emotional support.

Being a Caregiver Can Be Rewarding Yet Also Stressful

Many caregivers are friends or family members of the person who needs care. Some grown adults feel an innate responsibility to care for their aging parents and often cherish this time as a caregiver. Their parent provided for them, and now this is their opportunity to return the blessing. It can bring a sense of joy and fulfillment, yet it can also pose significant challenges.

But a shift in roles and emotions is almost certain. It is natural to feel exhausted, frustrated, angry, or alone. The emotional and physical stress of caregiving is common and referred to as caregiver stress.

People who experience caregiver stress can be vulnerable to changes in their own health. Risk factors for caregiver stress include:

  • Living with the person you are caring for
  • A higher number of hours spent caregiving
  • Lack of choice in being a caregiver
  • Having fewer years of formal education
  • Social isolation
  • Having depression
  • Financial difficulties
  • Lack of coping skills

Caring for a loved one who is seriously ill is never easy. You are often “on-call” almost all the time and feel your own free time is gone. It may be hard for you to juggle the different parts of your life, such as work, chores, and caring for the ill person.

Caregiving is also hard because you will be the one that sees changes in your loved one and find it difficult to see them the same way you did before they became ill. For example, if you are the caregiver for someone that develops Alzheimer’s, they may not recognize you at times, develop behavioral problems, or begin to suffer from incontinence. Alzheimer’s and incontinence can add an additional level of caregiving that can be very difficult to manage.

Common Signs of Caregiver Stress

stressed male sitting on a couch holding hands near faceWhen negative feelings start to take over and begin to disrupt your life, your health could suffer. Issues like depression, anxiety, and stress overload can take a toll on one’s health. A caregiver may not realize that their own health and well-being are being compromised because they are so caught up in caring for their loved one.

Signs of caregiver stress include:

  • Feeling overwhelmed or helpless
  • Irritability or anxiety
  • Getting too much sleep or not enough sleep
  • Gaining or losing weight
  • Social withdrawal
  • Losing interest in activities you used to enjoy
  • Feeling sad
  • Having frequent headaches, bodily pain, or other physical problems
  • Unhealthy behaviors such as abusing alcohol, drugs, or prescription medications

Too much stress over a long period as a caregiver can harm your health, which increases your risk of medical problems, such as heart disease and diabetes. If you think you are suffering from caregiver stress, call your doctor. They can help you manage your feelings and stress with various tools such as stress management techniques, counseling, or medicine.

Tips for Dealing With Caregiver Stress

Caregiving can be stressful, complicated, and time-consuming, so it is vital to take advantage of the many resources and tools available to help you provide care for your loved one. Remember, if you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to care for anyone else.

Some ways to help manage caregiver stress include:

  • Accept help. If a friend offers to take the person you care for on a walk a couple of times a week, run an errand for you, or cook, take them up on it.
  • Believe you are doing your best.  No one is perfect and it is ok to feel guilty sometimes. Focus on knowing that you are doing the best you can and making the best decisions you are able to.
  • Set realistic goals. Make lists and a daily routine. By breaking up large tasks into smaller ones, you will feel a better sense of accomplishment.
  • Look for resources. Many communities have classes specifically about the disease your loved one is facing or offer caregiving services such as transportation and meal delivery.
  • Join a support group. People in support groups understand what you may be going through and can provide validation and encouragement. Friendships can also be created in support groups that can provide meaningful connections when you may be feeling alone.
  • stethoscope and pen sitting on a medical chartPractice self-care. Find time for physical activity, eat a healthy diet, drink plenty of fluids, and set goals for a good sleep routine. Many caregivers have issues with sleeping and not getting quality sleep over a long period can lead to health issues.
  • Schedule your routine doctor visits. It is essential to get recommended vaccinations and screenings. Make sure to tell your doctor that you’re a caregiver and don’t hesitate to mention any concerns or symptoms you have. No one should ever have to suffer in silence.

If you are a caregiver and are struggling to manage incontinence for your loved one, we want to help make life a bit easier for you. Our wide selection of absorbent incontinence products are sure to help you and your loved one enjoy more out of each day and sleep better all through the night. With fewer product changes, less laundry, and more uninterrupted nights, you’ll have more time and energy for other caregiving activities or even your own wellness and personal care.

If you want to learn more about our adult incontinence products, need advice on what products to try, or have questions about incontinence, our Personally Delivered Incontinence Product Experts are just a phone call away.

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A Tracheostomy: Navigating Life With One

woman sitting with a scarf covering her tracheostomy valve

You may have many questions about the future if you or a loved one has recently had a tracheostomy while in the hospital. Everyone’s experience as to why they needed a tracheostomy in the first place and what their future looks like will differ. Many people live for a long time with a tracheostomy. However, having one usually requires several adjustments to your lifestyle and careful planning to ensure adequate care.

We will discuss what a tracheostomy is, why it would be needed, ways to cope, and some standard terms associated with a tracheostomy. We hope you will find this information beneficial as you or a loved one navigates through life with a tracheostomy, whether it is a temporary or permanent solution.

What is a Tracheostomy?

An assortment of tracheostomy tubes available at Personally DeliveredA tracheostomy is an opening in the front of the neck that’s made during an emergency or planned surgery. A tube is inserted into this opening in the trachea, or windpipe, for the person to breathe. This opening makes an airway for those who cannot breathe independently or have a blockage affecting their breathing. If a disease, such as cancer, is expected to cause difficulty breathing, a tracheostomy may be needed.

The tracheostomy opening is a kind of stoma that looks similar to the lining inside of the cheek. The stoma is pink or red and will be a hole in the front of the neck. Because a tracheostomy helps someone breathe, the larynx, or voice box, remains in place.

With a tracheostomy, if a person’s lungs still function well, they breathe through the tube directly in the trachea instead of breathing through their nose and mouth. If a person’s lungs are not working correctly or are affected by a disease, assistance from a breathing machine can help push air in and out of the tracheostomy tube.

What are the Reasons For a Tracheostomy?

There are three main reasons a tracheostomy is performed:

  1. The upper airway is obstructed
  2. To remove and clean the airway from secretions
  3. To deliver more oxygen to the lungs

There are many reasons why sufficient air cannot get to the lungs, and a tracheostomy must be performed.

Airway Problems That May Require a Tracheostomy

  • Tumors in the throat or neck area
  • A large tongue or a small jaw that blocks the airway
  • Infection that causes swelling inside the trachea
  • Laryngectomy (removal of the vocal cords)
  • Tracheomalacia (collapse of the airway)
  • Vocal cord paralysis caused by nerve damage or disease
  • Blunt or severe trauma to the throat, neck, or mouth
  • Congenital abnormalities of the airway
  • Inhalation of corrosive material, smoke, or steam that burns the airway
  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Obstruction from a foreign body

Lung Problems That May Require a Tracheostomy

  • Chest wall injury
  • Chronic pulmonary disease – the lungs become inflamed and obstruct airflow
  • Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia – abnormal development of the lungs of infants that causes a breathing disorder and causes the need for prolonged respiratory support
  • Dysfunction of the diaphragm

Other Situations That May Require a Tracheostomy

  • Fracture of cervical vertebrae with spinal cord injury
  • Neuromuscular diseases paralyzing or weakening the diaphragm and chest muscles
  • Aspiration related to muscle or sensory problems in the throat
  • A severe allergic reaction
  • Long-term coma or unconsciousness
  • Facial surgery and facial burns
  • Other emergencies when breathing is obstructed, and emergency personnel can’t put a breathing tube through the mouth and into the trachea

Is a Tracheostomy Permanent?

A tracheostomy can be either temporary or permanent, depending on the problem being treated. If a medical issue needs to be resolved, a tracheostomy provides an alternate breathing route and is meant to be temporary. However, a tracheostomy may be the best permanent solution if a person needs to remain indefinitely connected to a ventilator.

If the plan is for a tracheostomy to be temporary, the length of time it is left in place depends on why it was done and how long that problem will take to get better. For example, if a patient needs help from a breathing machine, the issue that caused the tracheostomy will need to heal or be fixed before the tracheostomy can be removed. If the tracheostomy was done due to a blockage, injury, or disease, the tube would probably be needed for an extended period. A tracheostomy could be in place for the rest of the patient’s life if part of the trachea is required to be removed or if it doesn’t get better. The hole may close and heal on its own, or it can be closed surgically.

What to Expect After Tracheostomy Surgery?

After tracheostomy surgery, several days will be spent in the hospital as your body heals. Learning skills necessary for maintaining and coping with your tracheostomy during this time are essential.

While you are in the hospital:

  • Learn how to care for your tracheostomy tube. Cleaning and changing your tracheostomy tube helps prevent infection and reduces the risk of complications. Your team of nurses will help train you on how to care for your tracheostomy tube.
  • You may need help speaking. A tracheostomy usually prevents speaking because exhaled air goes out of the tracheostomy opening rather than through your voice box. Speaking with the tube in place is dependent on the type of tube, the width of your trachea, and the condition of your voice box. A speech therapist or trained tracheostomy care nurse will discuss options for communicating and help you learn to use your voice again.
  • Eating will be difficult. Swallowing will be difficult after a tracheostomy. You will receive nutrients through an intravenous (IV) line, a feeding tube that passes through your mouth or nose, or a tube inserted directly into your stomach. It may take some time and patience to regain the muscle strength and coordination needed for swallowing.
  • Discuss ways to cope with dry air. After a tracheostomy, the air you breathe will be much drier because it no longer passes through your moist nose and throat before reaching your lungs. You may experience episodes of coughing or excess mucus coming out of the tracheostomy. Secretions can be loosened by putting small amounts of saline directly into the tracheostomy tube. Having a humidifier or vaporizer in the room can also be beneficial, as they add moisture to the air.

When you get home:

  • Get plenty of rest. Getting enough sleep will help you recover and remember not to overdo it.
  • Plan for time off work. Depending on the type of work you do, plan on taking about two weeks off. Even if you work from home, focus on your healing, and take it easy. You never know how you will feel and what health issues may arise once you get home.
  • Fit in a little exercise. Try to get in a walk each day. Start slow and work your way up to longer times. Avoid anything strenuous like running or lifting weights. Walking is best and boosts blood flow, which helps prevent constipation and pneumonia.
  • Bathe carefully. Stick to bathing in a shallow bathtub and try to avoid splashing water into your trach. You can also try showering, but aim the stream away from your tracheostomy. Bacteria can quickly enter the tracheostomy, and you don’t want to get an infection. It would be best if you did not swim with a tracheostomy.

Diet

  • Cardinal Health suction canister for those with a tracheostomyEating. You should be able to eat without a problem, but if food or liquid gets into your tracheostomy tube, suction it out right away. It is helpful to sit up while you eat. The suction canister kit by Cardinal Health is an excellent option for this.
  • Drinking. Staying hydrated is also very helpful, so try to make sure your fluid intake is sufficient.
  • Regular bowel movements may be off. It is common to experience irregular bowel movements after surgery. Taking a fiber supplement or mild laxative may help move things along. However, if you have not had a bowel movement after a couple of days, you will need to contact your doctor.
  • Your stomach may become upset. If your stomach is upset, try bland, low-fat foods like plain rice, broiled chicken, toast, and yogurt.

What Kind of Food Can You Eat With a Tracheostomy?

An assortment of Thick-It ready-to-serve puree dishes available at Personally DeliveredEating and swallowing patterns are usually not affected by having a tracheostomy. When you get your tracheostomy tube, you may be first started on a liquid or pureed diet. Once the tracheostomy tube is switched for a smaller size, swallowing is more comfortable. If there is a concern that your swallowing is impaired, nutrients will be administered through IV (an intravenous catheter placed in a vein) or a feeding tube.

Once you have healed from surgery, your doctor will inform you when it is safe to advance your diet to take in solids and liquids by mouth. At this time, a speech therapist will also help you learn how to swallow with a tracheostomy tube.

Certain factors may make swallowing difficult, such as:

  • Not having eaten for an extended period
  • Changes in the structure of your airway
  • The health condition that caused the tracheostomy in the first place

Tips for Eating and Swallowing

Here are a few tips that may help with swallowing problems:

  • Make sure to suction the tracheostomy tube before eating to prevent coughing while eating that could lead to throwing up.
  • If your tube has a cuff, ensure the cuff is deflated when you are getting ready to eat for easier swallowing.
  • Sit up as straight as possible when you eat.
  • Take small bites, chew food thoroughly, and swallow before taking another bite.
  • Keep mealtimes relaxed by planning them so that you are not in a hurry. Turn the tv off and put your cell phone away.

Common Terms Associated With a Tracheostomy?

Having a tracheostomy procedure done on you is a scary and life-changing event. However, it is a necessary procedure that will save your life. Thus, it is essential to know these terms and have an idea of terms that you will hear once you’ve had this procedure done.

Trach Tube – The tracheostomy tube or trach tube is a tube that is inserted into the trachea to provide a channel for air to pass through

Inner Cannula – A tracheostomy may or may not have an inner cannula, a liner that can be locked into place and then unlocked so it can be removed and cleaned.

Cuffed and Uncuffed Tracheostomy Tube – The cuff is a seal that inflates inside the trachea to block air from leaking around the tube. It forces all air going in and out of the lungs to go through the tube and stops saliva and other liquids from accidentally reaching the lungs.

  • A cuffed tube is often used when a patient is on a ventilator or needs help from a breathing machine. The healthcare team monitors the cuff pressure, and adjustments are made to the breathing machine as needed.
  • Uncuffed tubes are used for patients who do not need a ventilator or help from a breathing machine. With an uncuffed tube, some air can still flow around the tube and up through the trachea to the larynx.

Trach Cover – To prevent dust and dirt from accumulating, the trach tube is kept protected using a trach cover.

Trach Tube Holder, Collar, or Tie – Any of these three terms are used to describe devices that hold the tracheostomy tube in place. A trach tube holder or trach tube collar has a firmer hold while trach ties can be adjusted and are cheaper.

Purple Passy-Muir Low-Profile Tracheostomy and Ventilator Swallowing and Speaking ValvePassy Muir Valve – The Passy Muir valve helps the patient speak more normally and goes on the outside opening of the tracheostomy tube. It opens when air is breathed in and closes when air is breathed out. The Passy valve is also called a Passy-Muir speaking valve.

Stoma Shield Cover – The stoma shield cover is an essential protective device that guards the tracheostomy hole against water during showers.

Trach Heat Exchanger – This device heats and humidifies the air that comes into the trachea. A trach heat exchanger is an expensive approach to coping with dry air after tracheostomy surgery.

Tracheostomy Cleaning Tray – This is a single-use kit that includes everything needed to clean and prep the whole tracheostomy system. A complete tracheostomy tray should include latex gloves, gauzes, and other essential materials used to clean the entire system. It is a single-use kit.

Whether you’ll be having a tracheostomy temporarily or for life, it is essential to become acclimated with these devices to maintain yourself. Try to ask as many questions as possible while you are in the care of your doctor and nurses to help get as much information as possible before you head home.

For questions related to the tracheostomy supplies we carry, our Personally Delivered Product Experts are just a phone call away and ready to help.

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Treatment Options for Urinary Incontinence

icon of person holding their urine

Urinary incontinence is an issue that affects millions of Americans and, much like other conditions, it tends to vary in terms of both cause and severity. Because of this, there are a wide range of treatments that are suggested to help depending on the underlying cause, type of incontinence an individual is experiencing, and severity of the issue at hand. Doctors will typically suggest conservative treatments that do not involve surgeries first and, for this reason, we wanted to provide an overview of non-invasive treatment options that are utilized to treat urinary incontinence in men and women.

Behavioral Techniques & Pelvic Floor Muscle Exercises

woman practicing Kegel exercises on a floor mat

Bladder control training is often suggested as a non-invasive way to treat urinary incontinence. For example, pelvic muscle exercises (Kegel exercises) can be utilized to gain better control over the muscles that you use to stop urination. Timed voiding is another type of bladder control method where an individual urinates on a set schedule. Over time, one can begin extending the time between their trips to the bathroom.

Lifestyle changes may also be suggested as a way to help alleviate some of the symptoms of incontinence. Reducing caffeine intake by eliminating or reducing the consumption of tea, coffee, and cola can prove effective for some individuals due to caffeine’s status as a diuretic. Other lifestyle changes that may be suggested for treating incontinence consist of losing weight, altering the amount of fluid consumed daily, and avoiding alcohol.

Electrical Stimulation

For electrode stimulation to treat urinary incontinence, electrodes are inserted into the rectum or vagina as a means to stimulate and strengthen the pelvic floor muscles.  Stress and urge incontinence can often be treated with gentle electrical stimulation, but it is possible that an individual will need several months of treatment for the best efficiency.

Medications

woman holding a bunch of pills that can contribute to urinary incontinence symptomsMedications may also be recommended by your doctor to treat incontinence and often work by relaxing the bladder muscle. For example, anticholinergics such as tolterodine, darifenacin, solifenacin, trospium, fesoterodine, and oxybutynin can help with urge incontinence by calming an overactive bladder. Mirabegron can also be used to help with urge incontinence and works by relaxing the bladder muscle to allow it to increase the amount of urine it can hold. For women, hormone treatment via local vaginal/urethral estrogen therapy can prove helpful as a treatment for incontinence after menopause. The treatment can improve the health of the vaginal walls, urethra, and bladder neck which can alleviate symptoms of irritative bladder and incontinence.

Incontinence Pads and Catheters

urinary incontinence product collageIn cases where treatments cannot completely alleviate symptoms of incontinence, products such as incontinence pads can be used to assist with leaking urine. There are a wide range of absorbent incontinence pads and other protective garments on the market that can be found online, and at pharmacies and supermarkets, making them a simple option for combatting drips. Urinary catheters are another equally viable option that collects urine into a bag outside the body via a tube from the bladder through the urethra.

Treating your urinary incontinence symptoms can greatly help your quality of life. It is important to enjoy your activities without being troubled by leaks and other urinary problems. For any questions related to the incontinence products we supply, one of our Personally Delivered Product Experts will be happy to help. We are just a phone call away!

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