How to Manage an Overactive Bladder
Suppose you’re experiencing symptoms such as frequent urination, problems with involuntary urination, or sudden urges to urinate that require immediate action. In that case, you may be suffering from an overactive bladder.
As with all health issues, self-diagnosing based on Internet research is not recommended. Instead, it’s best to see a doctor about any noticeable symptoms or changes in your health that you experience so that you can be properly diagnosed. Sometimes, frequent urination can be a symptom of an undiagnosed underlying issue, such as diabetes, that needs to be addressed with your doctor as soon as possible.
For patients who have received an overactive bladder (OAB) diagnosis or suspect they have an overactive bladder, the following information can help you understand what to expect about your condition. We’ll also cover the overactive bladder treatment options you and your doctor have to reduce symptoms and improve your quality of life.
How Healthy Bladders Work
Your bladder works with your kidneys to help filter toxins from the blood and store urine before it is expelled. In healthy individuals, the bladder fills slowly as you consume liquids, filtering out the bad stuff. However, for some people, health issues can cause the bladder to fill quickly or be extra sensitive to any urine being stored. For example, if you are suffering from constipation, the extra pressure in your intestines can push up on the bladder and reduce its storage capacity.
Signs of an Overactive Bladder
What exactly defines an overactive bladder? In part, this is determined by the overall impact on your life. If you get to a point where you feel that you are frequently interrupted by your need to urinate or constantly worry that you may need to leave certain situations to the bathroom, you should talk with your doctor.
Common Causes of an Overactive Bladder
Causes of a condition are often referred to as risk factors. One of the most common risk factors for an overactive bladder is ageing. However, this does not mean that frequent urination is an inevitable part of getting older, or that it is nothing to worry about. It’s best to talk to your doctor if you are experiencing these issues so you don’t have to suffer.
Other risk factors for overactive bladder can be severe in and of themselves. Diabetes and an enlarged prostate are just two examples of this. The earlier you can diagnose these issues with your doctor, the better your overall prognosis. Last but not least, it’s worth noting that dementia and age-related memory loss are also frequently seen in conjunction with an overactive bladder.
Trauma to the nervous system of your internal organs can be another cause of an overactive bladder. For example, infections, such as UTIs, can strain the nerves in your bladder and make them unable to withstand having even a tiny amount of urine stored within. Similarly, pregnancy and childbirth can have a similar long-lasting impact on the bladder.
Overactive bladder can also be caused by the foods and drinks you consume. Beverages containing alcohol and caffeine are among the main culprits here. These substances have diuretics and cause the body to excrete more water than usual while also making you thirsty.
Hormonal changes can also have an impact on your need to urinate. Sometimes, as we get older, our hormone regulation changes, which causes corresponding effects to be seen in the body.
Complications of an Overactive Bladder
First, an overactive bladder means the organ is working harder, which can strain you and lead to problems down the road. Moreover, an overactive bladder can disrupt other areas of your life. It can harm your physical and mental health by degrading the quality of your sleep and by reducing the number of social activities you attend, for example. So, while it might not seem a big deal, an overactive bladder is worth treating.
Preventing Overactive Bladder
One of the most critical lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your risk of experiencing an overactive bladder is to get more exercise. As we alluded to earlier, reducing alcohol and caffeine intake is also an intelligent decision. Quitting smoking can also improve the health of your bladder, along with the health of virtually every other organ in your body.
Staying up to date on all your routine medical tests and regularly visiting your primary care provider will also help you avoid developing conditions such as overactive bladder. It can also improve your odds of catching potential diseases as early as possible to have the best shot at an effective overactive bladder treatment.
Diagnosing Overactive Bladder
Diagnosing a medical condition is something that only trained medical providers are equipped to do. However, there are steps you can take to help your doctor make the right call. One is to keep a diary of your urination for several days before your appointment so that your doctor can see trends and how you use the bathroom. Urinating more than eight times per 24-hour period is considered problematic. Your doctor will also weigh your entire medical history, and may request you participate in several laboratory studies to make the right call and find the right solution or overactive bladder treatment for your symptoms.
Strategies for Reducing Overactive Bladder Symptoms
The lifestyle changes mentioned above can help improve your overactive bladder symptoms and prevent them from worsening. However, if you are already suffering from an overactive bladder, you can also take some steps to help mitigate the symptoms.
One is scheduling regular times to empty your bladder so that you are less likely to be interrupted by the need to urinate when you are doing something important.
Another way to reduce symptoms from overactive bladder is to practise pelvic floor exercises, which are also known as Kegel exercises. Pelvic floor exercises involve contracting and relaxing the muscles that support the bladder. These exercises can help strength the bladder muscles and improve bladder control. To perform a Kegel exercises, one should squeeze the muscles that they would use to stop the flow of urine and hold the contraction for five seconds before releasing. Repeat the exercise 10 to 15 times, three times a day, to see improvement over time.
The third way to minimize the symptoms caused by OAB is to make dietary changes. Avoid certain foods and beverages, such as caffeine, alcohol, acidic foods, and spicy foods, as they can irritate the bladder and exacerbate OAB symptoms. Additionally, increasing water intake can also be helpful. Although it may seem a bit counterintuitive, drinking plenty of fluids can help to flush out the bladder and reduce irritation. It is recommended to aim for at least 8-10 glasses of water per day, or more if one is physically active or lives in a warm climate.
Your healthcare provider may wish to do some level of medical intervention. Frequent overactive bladder treatments include medication and nerve stimulation. Additionally, surgery may be beneficial, and implant solutions that can help some patients.
Conclusion: Don’t Suffer in Silence from an Overactive Bladder
If you suspect you might have an overactive bladder (OAB), don’t hesitate to reach out and get medical care. Your long-term health and short-term comfort are worth it!