Bowel and Bladder Incontinence FAQs


Are you living with a form of incontinence? You’re not alone. According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, approximately 13 million Americans have some form of incontinence.

What is incontinence?

Incontinence is the accidental or involuntary loss of urine or feces (stool). More specifically, urinary incontinence applies to bladder leakage. Fecal incontinence refers to a lack of control over bowels.

What are the types of urinary incontinence?

A few different types of urinary incontinence exist, including:

  • Stress incontinence: urine loss during physical activity, coughing, sneezing, or laughing
  • Urge incontinence: urine loss with increased urgency to void your bladder
  • Mixed incontinence: a combination of urine loss from both stress and urge incontinence
  • Overflow incontinence: a consistent and nearly constant voiding of urine without control

What are the types of fecal incontinence?

In the case of fecal incontinence, sometimes known as bowel leakage, you may have:

  • Passive fecal incontinence: leakage of liquid or solid stool with your awareness
  • Urge incontinence: feeling a strong sensation that you need to go to the bathroom but unable to stop it from coming out before reaching a toilet

What causes incontinence?

elderly couple with grandchildren
Incontinence doesn’t have to be a part of getting older. It can affect anyone at any age.

A host of issues may directly cause or play a part in causing fecal incontinence and/or urinary incontinence. While sometimes it’s related to nerve damage, other times it may be due to weakened pelvic floor muscles. Injuries, such as spinal cord injuries, may affect control over both your bladder and bowels.

Other potential causes may include:

  • Childbirth or pregnancy
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
  • Side effects from radiation or other cancer treatments
  • Neurological diseases like Multiple Sclerosis

How do I know if I have incontinence?

If you’re not sure, it’s best to talk to your doctor first. However, we do have a few questions you can ask yourself to decide if incontinence may be affecting you.

Do you ever:

  • Accidentally soil your underwear or pants with urine or feces without being able to hold it back and control when it’s time to go?
  • Experience leakage of feces or bed-wetting at night (nocturia)?
  • Leak when you exercise, cough, sneeze, or laugh?
  • Stay nervous or experience social anxiety because you’re afraid of having another accident?
  • Stay home and avoid social activities so you can be near your own bathroom in case of an urgent need to use the bathroom or fear of losing control of your bowels or bladder?

If you answered yes to any one of these questions, you may have urinary incontinence or fecal incontinence.

Next, we suggest talking to your doctor because they’re the best source for diagnosing and treating this situation.

How is incontinence diagnosed?

talk to your doctor
Talk to your doctor to get properly diagnosed.

First, speak with your doctor about your incontinence symptoms along with any other symptoms you may be experiencing. This will help them determine if your incontinence is related to another medical condition.

Your doctor may perform a few diagnostic tests. This may include non-invasive tests like x-rays (cystograms) or ultrasounds of your bladder or bowels. They may also perform other exams and tests.

Whatever tests the doctor orders, you have no need to be afraid. This is all part of the journey in getting you well and restoring your health.

How is incontinence treated?

Your doctor may recommend dietary changes, prescription medication, or bowel and bladder retraining programs. They may want you to keep a diary to record your bathroom habits for a period of time. You can download a diary for your bladder, bowel, bedwetting, and nocturia symptom tracking at our Resources page.

Your treatment plan will be based on your unique medical situation. In other words, your prescribing healthcare professional is the best source for determining the right treatment for you.

Because incontinence is such an individualized situation that varies in severity and type from person to person, it’s never a one-size-fits-all solution.

Your doctor may recommend using incontinence supplies to collect urine and feces and avoid leakage while they work on your treatment plan. Additionally, for urinary incontinence, your doctor may recommend intermittent urinary catheters as a way to keep your bladder emptied.

Is incontinence curable?

Certain types of urinary incontinence, such as stress incontinence, may be curable or improvable with diet, pelvic floor exercises, medicine, or surgery. Even fecal incontinence can be treatable and even curable in many cases too. This depends on the underlying cause for your incontinence, which is why it’s important to see your doctor and get a professional diagnosis.

What types of incontinence products do I need?

Depending on your situation, you may require diaper briefs, protective underwear, bladder control pads, booster liners, underpads to protect your bed or wheelchair, or another option.

Talk to your doctor for their recommendation. Then you can consult with 180 Medical’s knowledgeable Incontinence Specialists to custom-tailor an incontinence supply order that’s perfect for your needs.

How much do incontinence supplies cost?

180 Medical primarily works to serve customers who have insurance. We will handle billing your insurance for free, so that’s one less worry off your mind. However, in terms of cost, this entirely depends on the type of insurance coverage you have.

We’re in-network and contracted with most major insurance plans in the USA, including most state Medicaid plans, Medicare, and an ever-growing number of private insurance plans like Blue Cross Blue Shield, Aetna, Tricare, Cigna, Humana, and more.

Get more information about insurance coverage for incontinence products with our Insurance Guide. Next, contact us because we can verify your insurance coverage for the incontinence supplies you need. From there, we’ll let you know what your estimated out-of-pocket cost as well as what type of products and how many will be covered by your insurance.

What information do I need to give 180 Medical to get started?

All we need at first is your full insurance information, so we can verify your insurance company’s incontinence products coverage. In addition, we may need your prescribing doctor’s name and phone number. Other than that, you don’t have to worry about anything because we’ll work with your doctor or case manager to obtain anything else your insurance plan may require, such as a prescription or authorization.

We follow all guidelines to make sure we stay accredited with the ACHC (Accreditation Commission for Health Care), and we will always go the extra mile to take care of you.

180 customer specialists
Alyssa is one of our specialists at 180 Medical who will gladly help you find the right match of incontinence products to suit your needs.

I’m not sure what incontinence products will be best for me. Can you help?

Yes! 180 Medical is proud to offer you caring, attentive service. Our Incontinence Specialists will listen to your preferences and needs, answer any questions we can, and then work together with you to find the right selection of incontinence supplies for your individual situation.

Because each person has a different body and different levels of leakage, we feel it’s important to offer our customers a wide variety of incontinence supplies, including products from the top brands on the market today, including Attends, Personally Delivered, Depend, Tranquility, First Quality, Prevail, and much more.

incontinence brands at 180 medical

How will I receive my incontinence supply orders?

The great thing about choosing 180 Medical for your incontinence supply needs is that you no longer have to worry about carrying large, embarrassing packages through the store or pharmacy. We’ll ship your supplies discreetly to your door. Shipment is free once per month or once every three months, depending on your insurance requirements.

Talk to your Customer Specialist to determine the exact timing of when your orders are estimated to arrive depending on your location in the United States.

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