Do You Have An Overactive Bladder?

An over­ac­tive blad­der can dis­rupt your every­day liv­ing. You may feel embar­rassed, iso­late your­self, or lim­it your work and social life. But there are ways to take back control.

What is an over­ac­tive bladder?

First, let’s start with the basics. Over­ac­tive blad­der is an issue with the blad­der-stor­age func­tion which caus­es a sud­den urge to uri­nate. This urge may be dif­fi­cult to stop and may lead to invol­un­tary loss of urine (incon­ti­nence).

What are the symp­toms of over­ac­tive bladder?

If you have an over­ac­tive blad­der, you may experience:

  • The sud­den urge to uri­nate that’s dif­fi­cult to control
  • Urge incon­ti­nence-the invol­un­tary loss of urine after an urgent need to urinate
  • Fre­quent uri­na­tion-gen­er­al­ly 8 or more times in 24 hours
  • Wak­ing 3 or more times dur­ing the night to urinate

Even if you can get to a restroom in time, these symp­toms can dis­rupt your life.

What caus­es an over­ac­tive bladder?

Usu­al­ly, the spe­cif­ic cause of an over­ac­tive blad­der isn’t known. Some con­di­tions that may con­tribute to over­ac­tive blad­der include:

  • Neu­ro­log­i­cal dis­or­ders such as Parkin­son’s dis­ease, stroke and mul­ti­ple sclerosis
  • High urine production
  • Med­ica­tions that cause a rapid increase in urine pro­duc­tion or require that you take them with lots of flu­ids (Exam­ple: Lasix)
  • Uri­nary tract infections
  • Blad­der abnor­mal­i­ties such as tumors or blad­der stones
  • An obstruct­ed blad­der out­flow (enlarged prostate, con­sti­pa­tion, or pre­vi­ous oper­a­tions to treat oth­er incon­ti­nence issues)
  • Exces­sive caf­feine or alco­hol intake
  • Declin­ing cog­ni­tive func­tion due to aging-this may make it more dif­fi­cult for your blad­der to under­stand the sig­nals from your brain
  • Dif­fi­cul­ty walk­ing-mak­ing it dif­fi­cult to get to the bath­room quickly
  • Incom­plete blad­der emp­ty­ing leav­ing lit­tle urine stor­age space
  • Con­sti­pa­tion

What are the treat­ments for over­ac­tive bladder?

There are dif­fer­ent ways to help an over­ac­tive blad­der. The start­ing place for an over­ac­tive blad­der is behav­ioral inter­ven­tions. This means strength­en­ing the pelvic floor mus­cles, main­tain­ing a healthy weight, man­ag­ing your flu­id con­sump­tion and plan­ning out sched­uled restroom trips. Your doc­tor or phys­i­cal ther­a­pist will instruct you on how to strength­en your nec­es­sary mus­cles cor­rect­ly and will also help guide you in plan­ning strate­gies to help man­age your over­ac­tive blad­der. Remem­ber that it may take 6 – 8 weeks before you notice any dif­fer­ence in your symp­toms. Avoid­ing caf­feine and alco­hol will also help if these sub­stances wors­en your symptoms.

If behav­ioral inter­ven­tions aren’t enough, there are cer­tain med­ical treat­ments that may help. Med­ica­tions can be help­ful for relax­ing the blad­der and reliev­ing symp­toms of over­ac­tive blad­der and reduc­ing urge incon­ti­nence episodes. Cer­tain pro­ce­dures, such as blad­der injec­tions, nerve stim­u­la­tion, and surgery can help too. These pro­ce­dures, how­ev­er, are reserved for those who expe­ri­ence severe symp­toms and don’t respond to oth­er treatments.

Can over­ac­tive blad­der be prevented?

Liv­ing a healthy lifestyle is your best defense against an over­ac­tive blad­der. Exer­cis­ing reg­u­lar­ly, lim­it­ing con­sump­tion of caf­feine and alco­hol, quit­ting smok­ing, and man­ag­ing chron­ic con­di­tions (such as dia­betes) can help keep you be in the best shape possible.

If you expe­ri­ence over­ac­tive blad­der, talk with your doc­tor about your symp­toms and what treat­ment options would be best for you.

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