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Incontinence in Winter

Kiera Powell, R.N.
Verified by Kiera Powell, R.N. and written by Chad Birt on Thu Nov 18 2021.
Medically Verified
Incontinence in Winter

The winter season is a time for hot chocolate, holiday decorations, and family get-togethers. But for those with urinary incontinence, cold weather can also mean more frequent trips to the bathroom, increased leakage, and a loss of bladder control.

Whether you've been diagnosed with an enlarged prostate, or you're in the third trimester of your pregnancy, there are plenty of things you can do to reduce accidents and avoid triggers. In this blog post, we explain why incontinence is worse during cold weather and provide several tips to help you (or your care recipient) feel better.

Why is incontinence worse during the winter?

There are several reasons urinary incontinence is worse during the winter, including:

Cooler temperatures

During the fall and winter, the temperatures drop, causing your blood vessels to constrict and increase circulation to your vital organs. When your blood vessels constrict, your kidneys work harder to eliminate waste from your body, a process called "cold diuresis." The more blood your kidneys filter, the more frequently you need to pee.

Less sweat

Your body doesn't produce as much sweat when it's cold outside but it still needs to eliminate fluid. As a result, excess fluid collects in the bladder, causing the need to urinate.

Decreased fluids

If you're spending time outside and building a snowman, skiing, or snowshoeing, you might be tempted to limit your fluid intake. You don't want to drink too much water, but it's important to stay hydrated. Without proper hydration, you might irritate your bladder and make your symptoms worse.

Strenuous activities like shoveling snow

When you exercise, your body releases a number of byproducts like creatinine and lactic acid. Your kidneys must eliminate these components from your body, increasing the urge to urinate.

How can I reduce the risk of an accident this winter?

Whether you're experiencing stress incontinence, weak bladder muscles, or a prostate-related issue, there are several things you can do to reduce the risk of an accident this winter.

1. Avoid beverages that contain caffeine or alcohol

Many of us consume more caffeine and alcohol during the holidays. Unfortunately, both of these substances are diuretics, meaning they increase the production of urine. What's more, caffeine and alcohol irritate the bladder, increasing the risk of involuntary leakage.

2. Take regular bathroom breaks

One of the easiest ways to reduce the symptoms of urinary incontinence is to take routine bathroom breaks. Try emptying your bladder every two to four hours, even if you don't have the urge to go.

3. Visit the doctor

Sometimes, lifestyle changes aren't enough to relieve incontinence. If your symptoms persist or get worse, make an appointment with a doctor who specializes in urology.

Following a physical exam, a review of your medical history, and urinalysis, they can make recommendations for treatment. Depending on your age and the severity of your symptoms, that might include pelvic floor exercises, prescription medication, physical therapy, or a combination of treatments.

4. Be prepared for an emergency

Power outages are much more common during the winter. You can't predict when an outage will occur, but you can prepare in advance and stock up on the supplies you'll need.

Whether you're recuperating after surgery, suffering from stress incontinence, or recovering from childbirth, an emergency kit can provide peace of mind. Make sure to include pull-ups or diapers, wipes, skincare products (like barrier cream), underpads, clean bedding, and a clean change of clothes.

5. Keep a journal

The symptoms of incontinence vary greatly. For some people, they're a minor annoyance that responds to lifestyle changes and activity modifications. For others, they’re a constant struggle that affects every aspect of their lives. By keeping a journal, you can note what activities, foods, or drinks make your symptoms worse. You can even monitor your treatment over time and see what's working and what isn't.

Where can I buy incontinence products for the winter?

It's easy to buy incontinence products at most pharmacies, groceries, and big-box retailers, but you can save yourself a trip, by signing up for autoship here on Carewell.com. Autoship is a recurring shipment program that ensures you never run out of the incontinence products you need.

Some of our best-selling items include:

If you have questions or need help making the right choice for your loved one's needs, contact our friendly Care Specialists, available 24/7. Call (855) 855-1666 or send an email to support@carewell.com.

By taking action now, it's possible to stay clean and dry all winter long!

Recommended reading:

Incontinence After Menopause

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Chad Birt
Chad Birt

Chad Birt is a freelance B2B and B2C medical writer who resides in Astoria, Oregon. When he isn't behind a keyboard, you can find him hiking, camping, or birdwatching with his wife Ella and their two dogs, Diane and Thoreau.