What is an adult diaper?
An adult diaper, also called an adult nappy in the UK, is a special undergarment designed to be worn by adult men and women experiencing urine or fecal leaks (incontinence). They are lined with a superabsorbent polymer (SAP) called Sodium Polyacrylate. This polymer is capable of absorbing as much as 1000 times its own weight in water.
The development of similar SAPs was originally undertaken by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) in the 1960s. These first SAPs were intended for the improvement of water retention in soils. The USDA provided the research data to several companies to continue the development.
The first commercial use of SAPs was in the 1970s. Surprisingly this was not an agricultural application; it was, in fact used in disposable personal hygiene products such as sanitary napkins and diapers.
The invention of SAPs was a game-changer for the personal hygiene market. Diapers could now absorb far more liquid using far less material. These polymers also do not release the absorbed liquid. This quality made it possible to design diapers that absorbed all the voids but still allowed the skin to stay dry.
Modern diapers are generally disposable and designed for only a single use. They are available in a wide range of options for every possible situation. We will discuss these options in more detail later in this guide.
Whether you wear adult diapers during the day or overnight while you sleep, they are a very convenient solution for millions of people affected by incontinence. Thanks to the invention of adult diapers and their superabsorbent capacity, people are now able to continue a normal lifestyle despite this very personal and previously almost debilitating affliction.
Who Needs Adult Diapers?
The most common application of adult diapers is in the treatment or management of incontinence. They are also sometimes recommended as a temporary measure after surgery or during periods of illness such as with diarrhea.
Incontinence Causes and Risk Factors
Incontinence means loss of bladder or bowel control. The problem most commonly affects older people, although it does sometimes occur among younger people too. Women are more prone to incontinence than men. This is due to events such as pregnancy, childbirth and menopause. Incontinence may be temporary or chronic.
There are several different types of incontinence. It’s important to note though, that incontinence is not a medical condition. It is, rather, the symptom of an underlying condition. Let’s take a look at the various types of incontinence.
- • Stress incontinence. This is caused by improper closure of the bladder sphincter. Events that increase abdominal pressure, such as coughing or sneezing, can then trigger a leak.
- • Urge incontinence. The primary cause is an overactive bladder. The bladder contracts spontaneously, causing accidental leakages.
- • Overflow incontinence. This happens when the bladder does not empty properly due to weak bladder muscles or an obstruction like an enlarged prostate gland. The bladder may then overfill and leak.
- • Functional incontinence. Usually caused by impaired mental or physical capacity. Reduced cognitive function may prevent a person from becoming aware of the need to urinate. Physical incapacity may prevent a person from getting to the toilet in time.
- • Mixed incontinence. Some people may suffer from a combination of two or more types of incontinence at the same time.
Although the exact causes of incontinence cannot always be specifically identified, certain medical conditions, medications or lifestyle options are known to worsen incontinence in some people. The most common risk factors are:
- • Smoking. Statistically, it appears that incontinence is more common among smokers than non-smokers.
- • Being overweight. Excess weight creates pressure that may cause the bladder to leak.
- Some medications have been proven to promote incontinence.
- • Medical conditions. Conditions such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s Disease are known to cause or aggravate incontinence.
- • Damaged or weak muscles. The muscles in the pelvic floor or around the bladder may become weak due to surgery, childbirth, or lack of exercise.
While all the types of incontinence and risk factors may have slightly different treatment options, one aspect of the management of incontinence is common to all of them. That is the fact that adult diapers can improve the quality of life of every person affected by the condition.
Coming To Terms With Wearing Adult Diapers
Logically, you know that adult incontinence happens. You know that it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Emotionally, however, you may have to deal with a few struggles. That’s okay. You don’t have to lose your confidence if you have to start wearing adult diapers. Below you’ll find a few tips to strengthen your own confidence. If you’re reading on behalf of someone you love, you can encourage your loved one to use some of these tips.
Embarrassment has a way of building fear, and fear often impedes a person’s likeliness to seek professional help, or at least investigate and try treatment options. The condition may cause you to avoid social activities and gradually reduce your quality of life.
In recent years, infertility and mental illness have made their marks on the “health” map, garnering more attention in the news, less stigma from the public, and thus greater action at the hands of those suffering. Let us treat adult incontinence the same way.
The first line of defense for this very real condition, which affects far more individuals than the general public most likely presumes, is adult diapers. Adult diapers can be easily used without the wearer worrying about further health ramifications; many other medical conditions often carry a host of prescriptions and pills whereas the first line of adult incontinence defense is completely safe and at your fingertips.
Adult disposable underpants allow you to manage the downside of bladder and bowel movement while reducing the risk of embarrassment. If you’ve found yourself questioning “Do I need adult diapers”—or any other incontinence product—for one, you’re not alone. And two, chances are you have recognized that you have a need for something like this.
When it comes to deciding whether or not to embark on a more comfortable life by trying adult diapers, don’t let any fear or embarrassment of seeking intervention stop you. Thanks to LL Medico’s discreet (and free!) delivery, worries can be easily squelched and afflictions can be inconspicuously conquered without leaving your home. There’s nothing to lose except for discomfort and insecurity and everything to gain, such as liberation and confidence!
Remember That It’s Not Just You
Incontinence coupled with adult diapering may not be a dinner party conversation starter, or even share worthy with those we’re most comfortable with. Bear in mind though, that around 25 million adult Americans are affected. That is roughly equivalent to the number of people currently residing in the state of Texas. But because the condition is so deeply personal, embarrassment may override the need and desire to act.
Certain health afflictions and the interventions used to sustain them—such as surgery to repair a torn ACL, insulin to stabilize diabetes, and chemotherapy to rid the body of cancer—are comfortably discussed with a medical professional and probably equally easily with family and friends.
Sure, these conditions present themselves quite tangibly, making secrecy difficult, as compared to let’s say infertility, mental illness, or adult incontinence. However, another, and quite powerful, variable separates the former from the latter: the discomfort and even shame of verbally opening up and thus seeking intervention.
If you struggle with confidence because of a new need for adult diapers, try to remember that you’re not alone. Even better, see if you can talk to someone who deals with the same issues. More than half of senior adults deal with incontinence. Middle-aged women often struggle with incontinence, and women who have given birth are very prone to it at any age.
Some medications cause a temporary loss of bladder control, which means that even some young adults have to wear diapers at times. It’s far more common than most people realize for adults to use diapers and similar products to gain more control over their lives.
Keep a Sense of Humor
A lot of people deal with negative situations by using humor. People joke about everything from inconvenience to grief, so why not joke about your own use of adult diapers? Adding levity to the situation can bolster your confidence because it puts you in control of the conversation. That said, if your loved one is the person wearing adult diapers, jokes can be perceived as cruel, so follow your loved one’s lead when it comes to the subject. If they’d rather not joke about adult diapers, you can always distract them with other sources of humor.
Don’t Call Them Adult Diapers
There is absolutely nothing wrong with wearing and talking about adult diapers. However, some people aren’t comfortable with the term, and that’s fine. Use whatever word or phrase makes you most comfortable. If you’re fine with talking about adult diapers, then go ahead and talk about adult diapers. If you’d prefer to say “underwear” or some other term, that’s okay too. The choice is yours. Once again, if your loved one is wearing adult diapers, take his or her lead on this one. Don’t avoid the word “diaper” unless your loved one does. Otherwise, he or she might interpret the phrasing as shame on your part, which will only encourage more shame for your loved one.
Find Your Fit
One of the best ways to maintain confidence in adult diapers is to make sure that you’re wearing the right fit and style to prevent embarrassing accidental leaks. You have many different options in brand names, sizes, styles, and even colors. We will deal with how to select the correct size and ensure a good fit in a separate chapter.
Adult Diaper Types
Broadly speaking, there are two types of adult diapers; briefs and pull-ups Both types serve the same essential purpose, and that is to prevent urine or feces leakage. But you may prefer one over the other because of comfort, ease of use, or absorbency level. You may also consider how easy the product makes it for your caregiver to care for your family member.
These are "baby style" diapers designed for moderate to heavy urine or bowel incontinence. Unlike baby diapers, they have two to three tape closures on each side instead of one. The backing is made from a waterproof, fibrous cloth-like material or a plastic (poly) material. And the padding is filled with gel-forming polymer for super absorbency.
One of the biggest advantages compared to other adult incontinence products is the ability to use the bathroom or change the undergarment without entirely removing your pants. Thanks to the tabs on each side, which make it easy to open and close the brief multiple times. But they do not provide as much ease of use as pull-ups.
People might prefer the ones with cloth-like backing since it is a little more discreet without the noise created by a brief with plastic backing. The cloth-like backing also offers more breathability.
Pull up diapers are disposable one-piece, absorbent underwear for men and women with elastic around the waist and legs to prevent leaks. They closely resemble ordinary underwear. Scalled incontinence underwear , they are made with a waterproof cloth backing and carry an inner absorbent pad that contains a polymer (SAP). Pull ups for adults made with SAP can absorb and retain a high volume of liquid while keeping you dry and confident.
Choosing your type
The management of adult incontinence can be a tricky aspect to navigate when you become a caregiver. Because many people find the topic of aging and caring for the elderly or disabled uncomfortable, there is a lack of open dialogue about adult incontinence care products.
The issue is also made much more difficult by the plethora of options available in the market. Knowing the difference between the types of adult diapers offered can make a huge difference in the comfort and self-confidence of your patient. Let’s look at a summary of some of the key benefits of each type:
- • Can be changed without completely removing pants
- • Tab fasteners offer an adjustable fit for awkward shapes and sizes
- • Suitable to use overnight due to higher absorbency
- • Appropriate for more severe cases of incontinence
- • Wear like conventional underwear
- • Generally, less bulky and more discreet than adult briefs
- • Cloth-like outer layer is less noisy when worn
- • Appropriate for people with mild to moderate incontinence
- • Suitable for people that are able to help themselves to some extent
Knowing only the specific benefits of each type does help, but it’s also useful to consider the following tips to help you narrow your search down:
- • Choose a type and brand for day or night use. You will most likely find that you use two or more different products for day, night, or active use.
- • Take accurate body measurements to ensure you order the right size for the right fit. This is discussed in more detail in a separate chapter.
- • Decide if you prefer ones with the plastic or cloth-like backing.
- • Do you want the disposable or reusable type?
- • Choose a product with the level of absorbency protection you need. Whilst a lot of incontinence underwear is not gender specific, some are. For men there is extra absorbency in the front of the diaper where most leakage occurs. For women, additional absorbency is provided in the front to center area.
- • Look for a brand that neutralizes the pH in urine and stops bacterial growth
- • Consider buying online if privacy is a concern for you.
- • Ask your loved one's caregiver which product makes caring easier for them. Many caregivers prefer adult briefs with tabbecause it makes diaper changing easier for them and less bothersome for the wearer
- • It may take a little trial and error to figure out which adult diapers you prefer. If you’re not quite sure which ones will work for you, try a few samples first to find the right fit and absorbency level.
Do your diapers leak? Leaky diapers are the most common complaint from individuals dealing with incontinence. Adult diapers are meant to be discreet, yet provide total coverage and absorbency. However, even the best diaper on the market will leak if it doesn’t fit properly. Here is how to find the right adult diaper fit.
Take Accurate Measurements
The best place to start when trying to find the right fit for adult diapers is to take your measurements. Most adult diapers only require two measurements – the waist and hips. However, there are some products that take three measurements – the waist, hips, and thighs. While you may not need all three measurements, it’s a good idea to go ahead and take them all while you are at it.
Measuring Your Waist
It’s essential to have your waist measurement to get an accurate adult diaper fit. Some people accidentally get the wrong size because they use their trouser size instead of measuring their waist. Trousers are typically worn below the natural waistline, which doesn’t provide the right fit for your adult diapers. Getting the waist size wrong can leave you with an uncomfortable fit that is either too snug or too large. Your adult diapers rest on your waistline, so make sure that you take the time to measure it properly.
Measuring Your Hip
Your hip measurement is also important for a proper fit. Having any gaps in the fit of incontinence products is just asking for a mess. On the other hand, you still want to be able to breathe and function as normal while wearing your adult diapers. Measure your hip at the widest part in order to get the most accurate measurement. Although the measurements don’t require absolute precision, it is worth getting it right in order to find the best adult diaper fit.
Measuring Your Thigh
While the thigh measurement isn’t required for every diaper, it’s still a good idea to take it. Measuring your thigh is typically needed for incontinence swimwear. It is also sometimes needed if you have thighs that are either smaller or larger than an average-sized thigh. In order to take your thigh measurement, measure at the widest point while your thigh is parallel to the ground. Make sure that the fit is snug in order to prevent any accidents, especially in the water.
Having the wrong-sized adult diapers can make dealing with incontinence a whole lot harder than it needs to be. With just a little attention when taking the measurements, you’ll almost certainly save yourself a great deal of annoyance or embarrassment further down the line.
Choosing The Right Absorbency For Your Adult Diaper
Shopping for adult diapers can be overwhelming due to the range of absorbency levels available. A person who is new to adult diapers can expect to have a hard time understanding what the absorbency levels mean. How much liquid can be absorbed by a diaper of a certain absorbency level?
The best way to pick the right absorbency is to order diapers and test them out. For example, you might order light for during the day but realize you need a bit more absorbency and switch to moderate. Here are some tips for picking an adult diaper based on the absorbency level.
Light absorbency adult diapers can feel just like regular underwear. These diapers are perfect for daytime wear for active adults. The light absorbency level will not be able to handle large accidents but works well for lesser bladder leaks. The technology inside a lot of today's diapers fights against odors and is comfortable against the skin even after it is soiled. Light absorbency diapers come in briefs, pull up, and belted styles.
The moderate level of absorbency is for adults that need something in between light and heavy diapers. Moderate absorbency adult diapers work well for the adult who is active but is experiencing more than just small bladder leaks. The diapers are designed to hold accidents while keeping users comfortable and odor-free.
Heavy absorbency diapers are perfect for the adult who has more severe incontinence or has both bladder and bowel incontinence. These diapers also work well for someone who needs to wear the diaper for a longer period of time. The heavy absorbency diapers can hold large amounts of liquid comfortably and odor-free for up to 8 hours.
Maximum (overnight) absorbency diapers are perfect for overnight use. Rest assured that you will get a good night’s sleep despite incontinence issues. These diapers will hold for well up to 8-10 hours, leaving users comfortable and well-rested in the morning. Some of the maximum absorbency diapers can hold up to a quart of liquid.
Adult diapers come in many different absorbency levels, meaning there is a proper fit and feel for everyone. Don’t hesitate to try different levels of absorbency to figure out what works best for you. It is also a good idea to have different diapers for different situations. For example, you may use maximum strength during the night, but moderate strength during the day.
You may also experiment with booster pads or liners for very mild incontinence or to provide temporary additional absorbency in certain circumstances. Just because you have incontinence issues does not mean you have to be uncomfortable. Finding the right absorbency level is the first step to being comfortable in adult diapers.
Four Tips For Choosing The Correct Disposable Adult Diaper
Few people are comfortable discussing adult diapers or how to choose the correct one. It’s a very personal issue that most people are too embarrassed to share. However, if you or a loved one is incontinent, choosing the correct adult diaper will eliminate some of the stress factors and discomfort.
If you are suffering from mild incontinence, your needs will almost certainly be somewhat different to those of a bedridden patient. In the instance of mild incontinence, you may be able to use an insert pad coupled with incontinence pants for an adequate level of protection. However, people who are struggling with getting to the bathroom alone, can't control their bladder, or have fecal incontinence, will need an adult diaper to keep them from soiling their clothing or bedding and staying dry. To summarize everything that has been discussed in the earlier chapters, take note of these four tips for choosing the right adult diaper.
If you are only dealing with a mild incontinence issue, as mentioned earlier, you may be able to get away with an incontinence pad coupled with an incontinence pant. However, if your situation is more serious, you will want to choose an adult pull up. With adult pull up absorbent underwear, you can pull up the diaper like underwear. It is also more discreet than an adult brief. Moreover, these diapers will be able to absorb a larger amount of liquid from urinary incontinence compared to using pads alone. If, however, you’re dealing with complete bladder loss or fecal incontinence, you will probably need a more heavy-duty absorbency that is found in an adult brief. There are varying degrees of adult briefs for light to maximum incontinence; some can hold up to a cup of liquid and others can hold up to 13 cups of liquid.
Another consideration for choosing the right adult diaper is selecting a proper diaper size. If you select an adult diaper that is too small, you will not have proper coverage. Conversely, if the diaper is too large, there will be gaps that result in leakage of urine or fecal materials onto clothing or bed linen. When selecting the right sized brief or pull up, you will need to identify your waist size. Once you know the waist and hip size, then you can review the sizing charts of the different brands. Not all brands have the same waist and hip sizes so be sure to check the sizing charts quite carefully.
The next tip to consider when choosing the right adult diaper is determining the right material. Some diapers have plastic backings. These diapers provide more protection from leakage. However, many people do not like how bulky these adult diapers feel and prefer a non-plastic backed diaper. These adult diapers are called breathable diapers. Obviously, these adult diapers allow more air to circulate and cause less frequent issues with rashes. Then again, these diapers are not as leak-resistant.
Lastly, when selecting an adult diaper, you must consider the cost. While the cost of the diaper should not be your first consideration, you should determine your budget before purchasing. The most expensive adult diaper is not necessarily the best one. You must consider the absorbency, size, material, and overall fit of the diaper before anything else. Once you've found a couple of adult diapers that will work for you, then you should review the cost of the products. In some instances, you can purchase these adult diapers in bulk and find cost savings through automatic delivery.
Adult incontinence is an unpleasant and inconvenient affliction. Although it can, nowadays be managed or treated, it is still a condition that needs adjusting to. Most people experience some level of discomfort or loss of dignity in dealing with it. Rest assured, though, you do not need to navigate adult diapering on your own.
The team at LL Medico has been dealing with incontinence management products for more than 25 years. We will stand by you and guide you. Whatever questions you may have, we can answer. Whatever decisions you face, we can provide expert advice. We are industry leaders in incontinence supplies.