What Should I Ask My Doctor About Incontinence?
You’ve experienced a few urine leaks, maybe even an embarrassing moment or two. You shrug it off, assuming it’s something that just happens. Over time, the word “incontinence” slowly enters your mind. At first you ignore it, but after a couple more accidents you start to wonder if it’s time to see the doctor. After all, you’re healthy and active and living with a leaky bladder isn’t how you see yourself. You put off the call for a few weeks, maybe a few months and then you finally make an appointment with the doctor. You might not be convinced there is anything anybody can do about those occasional drips, but you are ready to see what might be possible.
Congratulations! You’ve made a wise choice.
As you prepare for your appointment, we’ve prepared some background information, including questions to ask your doctor. Because here’s the thing—incontinence doesn’t “just happen.” There is an underlying reason. Not necessarily something dire, but often, something that can, and should, be addressed.
A Quick Refresher
There are several types of incontinence. Stress incontinence comes from weak pelvic muscles; laughing, sneezing, or lifting can cause you to leak. Urge incontinence, or overactive bladder, can be caused by disease, infection, menopause, or a prostate issue. Overflow incontinence occurs when the bladder does not completely empty. And functional incontinence is a bladder problem that results from circumstances that keep you from getting to the bathroom in time. An example is stiff, arthritic fingers that make it hard to negotiate clothing or zippers.
A few facts about urinary incontinence.
It is almost always a sign of another problem, such as nerve damage, muscle weakness, blockage, or infection. Side effects of medications and symptoms of other medical conditions like stroke, diabetes, and multiple sclerosis can be factors as well.
It can often improve with lifestyle changes like more bathroom breaks and exercise, and less coffee.
If you are seeking a second opinion, be sure to bring all relevant medical records from your original exam, like test results and notes from previous doctors’ visits. These can be much easier to obtain if you use a patient portal.
Incontinence can often improve with lifestyle changes such as more bathroom breaks and exercise, and less coffee.
Make the Most of Your Minutes
Most doctor appointments last only about 15 minutes, and that’s just the face-to-face portion, not the time you spend filling out forms and doing Wordle in the waiting room. Once you’re in front of your physician, avoid lots of chit-chat about the weather and get down to the business at hand. Learn more about making the most of your doctor’s visit in our blog, Take Charge of Your Doctor’s Appointment.
Once you’ve answered your doctor’s questions, use this list of questions to help you make the most of your appointment. Amend the list to reflect your specific situation and symptoms.
- What tests will you use to help identify the cause of my incontinence?
- Can over-the-counter medicines and supplements be helpful, or could they make matters worse?
- Should I cut down on fluids? How much should I be drinking?
- What foods or beverages affect incontinence?
- Are there activities I should avoid to keep leaks under control?
- What absorbent products are best for me…and my mattress?
- What forms of exercise do you recommend?
- What is bladder training and could it reduce my symptoms?
- What products do you recommend for skin protection and odor?
- Could you recommend a good incontinence support group?
Once the doctor has test results to discuss, your list of questions will probably be shorter and may include these:
- Should I see a specialist, such as a urologist?
- What medicines or drugs are best for my condition? What are the side effects?
- Are there any new or innovative treatments I should know about?
- What about surgery? Am I a candidate and what does the procedure entail? Could you recommend a surgeon?
- Would surgery be covered by my insurance or Medicare policy?
Many doctors recommend keeping a bladder journal for several days before the appointment. Include information about toilet habits, everything you ate and drank, your activities, and any nighttime pit stops.
Aren’t You Glad You Didn’t Cancel?
Incontinence can be a complex condition without easy answers. But with information, patience, and the resolve to see it through, the chance of finding an effective solution is high.
While we’re on the subject of solutions, for those with Medicaid insurance, let’s talk about free, home delivery of insurance-covered incontinence products from Home Care Delivered. From absorbent bladder control pads to protective underwear, skin care, and wipes, we’re your one-stop resource for the quality products you rely on to help you live with confidence and dignity.
Call 804-885-4101 today and talk with a member of our incontinence team. Enrolling is super quick and easy! Or, enter your phone number on the bottom left of the screen and we’ll reach out to you.
As you prepare for your doctor’s appointment, prepare for whatever comes next with quality incontinence products from HCD!
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Unless otherwise noted, the recommendations in this document were obtained from the sources indicated. Be advised that information contained herein is intended to serve as a useful reference for informational purposes only. HCD cannot be held responsible for the continued accuracy of or for any errors or omissions in the information. All trademarks and registered trademarks are the property of their respective owners.