A doctor or specialist can help investigate the cause and type of incontinence. He or she can also determine whether the problem is permanent or temporary, which treatments can solve or reduce the problem, and recommend the optimal incontinence products for each individual situation.

Types of incontinence

There are several different types of incontinence and causes of incontinence. In addition to urinary incontinence, some people may experience fecal incontinence, which is the unintentional loss of stool.

There are special products available for different types of incontinence, including fecal incontinence, exercise incontinence, and functional incontinence. For example, products for fecal incontinence have high upstanding barrier edges and extra strong elastics to hold in the stool and prevent leakages. 

Identifying and understanding the type and cause of incontinence (a doctor or health care professional can help with the assessment), makes it easier to choose the right incontinence product.

Different products – different absorbency levels

The amount or degree of involuntary urine loss is an important factor when choosing the right incontinence material. For light incontinence a pad is usually sufficient, whereas for moderate to heavy urine loss, a slip or pant is more appropriate. In addition, it is important to consider the absorption level of a product. Absorbency is the amount of urine the incontinence product is able to absorb and retain without leaking. 

Consider a labeling system like Abena’s ‘drop system’. The drop system can be used to identify the right absorbency level of a product and thereby help you choose the right product to fit individual needs. Look for the colored drop symbols on the product packaging to find the absorbency levels. The absorbency capacity ranges from 75 ml (lightest product) to 4000 ml (heaviest product). 

(The maximum absorption capacity of a product is determined based on Rothwell test (ISO11498-1).

Finding the right product size

Finding the right size incontinence product is of great importance, even though the absorbency level of a product has nothing to do with the size of the incontinence product. It may sound counterintuitive, but a product that is too large actually increases the risk of leakage, while a product that is too small or ill-fitting will feel uncomfortable.

The best fit can be determined by measuring the hip circumference, which can be measured by stretching a measuring tape around the widest part of the hips, about 10 centimeters below the navel.

Mobility and lifestyle affects product choice

Mobility and lifestyle are important factors to consider when choosing the right incontinence product.  Estimates show that more than 25% of nursing home residents are incontinent. Because these residents are often elderly, disabled or bedridden, they are more often in need of assistance changing their incontinence product. Incontinence products with adhesive strips are easier to change for health care workers. 

For people with an active lifestyle, pants and pads may be a better choice because they are easier to change and replace by the person themselves.

The skin and incontinence

The skin is very sensitive to moisture and urine. As a result, people with incontinence run an increased risk of skin problems, such as incontinence-associated dermatitis (IAD). The use of special skin care products helps to protect and care for the skin. In addition, it is important to choose incontinence products that quickly absorbs the urine and keeps the surface of the inner layer dry against the skin. 

Fit and application guides

To help keep products and inserts better in place, it is possible to use specially designed fixation underwear. Fixation underwear has a wider crotch than normal underwear, which means that the insert fits better, thereby reducing the risk of leaks.

 In addition, it is very important to carefully follow the application guides for the individual products. 

Abena is a leading manufacturer of continence solutions, supplying healthcare organisations with high quality continence pads, pull ups, all-in-ones and skincare products. Abena products are designed with maximum comfort and leakage protection in mind, improving outcomes and quality of life.