Managing Incontinence: Are You Winter Saavy?

Community Member

As the change in seasons is rapidly approaching, I thought I might share some coping strategies for dealing with the various forms of incontinence during the winter months. Just as we change what we wear, we need to  adjust our strategies for staying dry.

I'm not a winter person. I've been known to comment "There are only two good things about winter: Fireplaces and hot chocolate" At this is the time of year we tend to increase our consumption of coffee, hot chocolate, and, for some of us, "hot toddies." I'm pretty much a teetotaler myself, but I do love a cup of strong, hot coffee!

Although they can keep us warm, many beverages we drink in the winter also have increased caffeine, which, as we all know, can irritate the bladder. An obvious source is the coffee, but many hot chocolates have caffeine as well. The alcohol in those hot toddies and mulled wine can be very irritating and can therefore increase urge incontinence. It's okay to imbibe, but try to drink some non-alcoholic or non-caffinated beverages too, to dilute the irritants.

However, just as it is in summer, it is still very important to remain properly hydrated. Although it may seem counter-intuitive, drinking plenty of fluids may actually help urge incontinence. For some people urge incontinence is worse in the winter than in summer. This may be due to decreased fluid intake, which may result in urine becoming more concentrated. Irritants may trigger sometimes detrusor overactivity, so drinking enough to keep urine diluted may help, and frequent urination may help flush them from the bladder.

In my post "Staying Dry: Summertime Tips and Tricks" I stated that I don't use a lot of lotions or creams during the hot humid months. However, I will use them in the winter. Like most people, my skin tends to be drier in winter, and so moisturizing becomes important. Just like summer, it is also important to keep clean and dry, as dry skin is more sensitive to the irritants in urine.

For people that control their incontinence by self-cathing, because of all the nasty bugs floating around this time of year, hand washing becomes doubly important! However, all that hand washing can lead to increased lotion use, which may impair cathing. This may result in a "catch-22" situation. I've found it's best as always to wash thoroughly, and wait about using hand lotion until I finish cathing.

Stress incontinence can also be worse in winter because some of the sniffles we tend to acquire can make us cough and sneeze more, which, for many of us, trigger leaks. This may require changing and cleaning more frequently than in summer.

Well, so much my thoughts. Hope some of these ideas can help. I'm off to find a "cuppa joe!" Wish I could find a fireplace!