Multiple Sclerosis and Incontinence

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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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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!

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