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Incontinence Guide

What is incontinence?

Incontinence is a condition that can affect people of all ages, but is especially prevalent among the elderly. The basic definition of incontinence is the lack of control over urinary and/or fecal output.

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What do I need to know?

Incontinence management can be an unpleasant task, but it doesn’t have to be. Our range of adult diapers, bed pads, chux and more can help minimize distress and embarrassment for both the affected and the caregiver.

Read on for detailed information about incontinence supplies and how to choose products that will make it easier for you to deal with your condition.

Incontinence Guide - how to choose the best products for your condition

Before you start choosing incontinence products, there are a few things to consider. Here are some points you’ll want to keep in mind when making a purchase:

Incontinence level: Your purchase selections will depend on the level of incontinence you are dealing with. If fecal incontinence is also an issue, you’ll need to find products that are made to provide enough protection for bowel leakage.

Refer to this chart to decide what level of incontinence – and absorbency level – is most applicable to your situation.


Light amount of urine or infrequent leaks

Moderate amount of urine or continuous leakage

Large amount of urine and/or fecal incontinence
Maximum / Overnight

Very large amount of urine and/or fecal incontinence

Active vs. Inactive: Inactive individuals such as bedridden patients or those with very limited mobility will need different kinds of products than people who are independent and mobile.

Sizing: When buying pull-up underwear and briefs, you’ll need to get the size of the waist and hips. Select the product size using the larger of those two measurements.

Pricing: Higher absorbency level products will be more expensive. Remember, though, that the better the absorbency, the less you’ll have to use.

Comfort: Your personal comfort (or that of the patient) plays a significant role in deciding which products are right for you. It’s important that whatever products you use don’t irritate your skin. By experimenting with our money-back samples, you can learn what works for you and your skin.

Personal preferences: You’ll need to choose things like whether you want to use disposable or reusable products, what styles you prefer, etc.

Wearable Protection

To prevent soiling clothes and furniture, the first thing to consider is the use of wearable protection.

Adult Diapers & Briefs

Adult-sized diapers, or briefs, are fitted for high leakage protection and have side tabs for fastening like baby diapers.

Briefs are intended to help manage moderate to severe urinary and fecal incontinence and are usually necessary for inactive individuals.

The main variables of different adult diapers are the absorbency levels and sizes. Bariatric briefs are available for heavier users.

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Pull-up UnderwearPull-up Underwear

For active individuals with heavier incontinence, disposable or reusable pull-up underwear is a comfortable, discreet way of avoiding embarrassing leaks.

Pull ups slip on and off like regular underwear and are available in both daytime and overnight options. They offer maximum protection for those suffering from moderate to heavy urinary incontinence and those with mild bowel incontinence.

Tip: If the underwear is being used at night, avoid leaks by checking that the fit around the legs is secure.

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Bladder Control Pads & Pant Liners

Pads and liners are worn inside normal underwear and offer light to maximum protection for independent, mobile individuals with mild or occasional urinary incontinence (or very light fecal incontinence).

Adhesive tape keeps incontinence pads and pant liners in place to manage urine leaks effectively and discreetly.

Bladder Control Pads & Pant Liners Dictionary:

Pantiliners/Light Pads
Worn inside regular underwear, for light cases of incontinence
Liners/Shaped Pads
For moderate urinary incontinence, thicker pads that provide a wider area of protection than light pads; alternative to diapers and protective underwear
Shaped Pads
Women’s Pads and Liners
Bladder control pads worn inside normal underwear
Mens Shields
Men’s Shields
Used with regular underwear, ultra-light for very light incontinence
Mens Guards
Men’s Guards
Used with regular underwear, for moderate incontinence
Reusable Knit Underpants
Pad and Pant System
Reusable knit underpants are used together with liners or pads (which are bought separately) to provide comfortable, discreet protection
Double Booster Pads
Doublers/Booster Pads
Used in conjunction with absorbent undergarments to provide additional absorbency when necessary

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Belted UndergarmentsBelted Undergarments

Belted undergarments are like incontinence pads that are made wearable with adjustable belts, and offer similar protection as pull-up underwear. They are discreet and highly absorbent, and can either replace or be worn with regular underwear. (You may choose to use regular underwear over it to hold it in place.)

Because of their open sides, belted undergarments offer better air flow and are easier to change than pull on underwear, since clothing don’t need to be removed first.

Belted undergarments can also be used for bedridden or immobile patients, although the protection area may not be wide enough for most inactive users.

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Other Protection

Even with wearable protection, further protection may be necessary for beds and chairs used by the incontinent patient.

While waterproof mattress covers protect the mattress, underpads cover the bedding as well, greatly reducing your laundry workload.

Bed Pads/Chux

Bed pads, or chux, are flat, absorbent pads that can be used almost anywhere – beds, chairs, wheelchairs, litter boxes, couches or car seats. They serve a double function; as they protect furniture from getting soiled, they protect the skin from damage by drawing the moisture away from the surface of the pad. DryPads are specially designed for this purpose, and provide maximum absorbency and skin protection.

Underpads are available in a variety of sizes, absorbency levels and types to suit your individual needs.

Disposable underpads, also known as chux pads, are very useful for travel and other temporary uses. Reusable underpads save money and reduce waste, as they can be washed and reused many times.

Bed pads are available for both standard and air-flow therapy mattresses.

To learn more about underpads and how to choose the best one for your needs, check out our detailed guide to underpads.

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Mattress Covers

When you slip a mattress protector over your mattress, you can sleep in peace, knowing your mattress will stay clean and dry all night.

Our waterproof, hypoallergenic mattress covers protect your mattress from stains, moisture and odors and are available in several sizes to meet your needs.

Keep your mattress clean and dry. Check out our selection of washable and disposable mattress covers in bed accessories.

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Incontinence Management

Incontinence management is made easier with incontinence products such as fecal collectors, urinals and cleaning paraphernalia.

Fecal ManagementFecal Management

Fecal incontinence, especially when the stool is loose or semi-formed, should be managed by fecal collectors to avoid the issues that can be caused by relying on incontinence pads, such as skin damage and frequent changing.

Unlike pads, fecal collectors can be left in place for up to 48 hours, keep the feces off the skin and ease cleaning of patient.

For constant draining, the fecal collector can easily attach to a collection device.

Urinal/BedpansUrinal /Bedpans

Toilet substitutes can be used as part of incontinence management.

Urinals are plastic urinating containers for both men and women. If you find it hard to get to the bathroom on time, keep one near the bed and another in the car for emergencies.

Women may choose to use a female urinal or a bedpan. Bedpans are used by both genders for bowel movements.

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Washcloths, Wipes & Gloves

Wearable incontinence products should be changed regularly – at least two or three times daily. Before putting on a fresh pad or diaper, be sure to clean and dry the skin gently but thoroughly to avoid rashes and irritation.

Personal cleansing cloths and wipes are great for this purpose because they are soft and gentle on the skin, making clean up quick, efficient and painless. If the skin is sensitive, fragrance-free options are preferable.

Sanitary considerations matter for the caregiver too, so be sure to get some disposable gloves to keep you clean. If you're not sure what kind of gloves you need, check out this excellent guide on how to choose and use the best medical gloves.

For more clean-up options like antiseptic sprays as well as moisturizing creams and ointments, see our skin care category.


When it comes to incontinence, it’s normal to feel at a loss. That’s why at AvaCare Medical, we have a department devoted to incontinence matters. If you have any questions, simply call us today at 1-877-813-7799; our experienced and caring representatives are ready to help.

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Do you have something to add? There’s nothing like personal experience! Let us know by calling or emailing us, and we’ll make sure to update our information.
At AvaCare Medical, we’re here to help you find the incontinence products that work for your needs. If you’re still confused about your options, give us a call today at 1-877-813-7799.

Disclaimer: No information presented on this website is medical advice or intended as a substitute for the advice of a physician. All information on this website concerning medical conditions is from publicly available sources.

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