What You Should Know About Overactive Bladder

By on August 27, 2019
Overactive Bladder

We’ve all laughed at the silly commercials, but the truth is, having an overactive bladder really affects your life, and running to the bathroom all the time is a pain. Frequent urges can keep you from enjoying your life and get you up multiple times during the night. But do you have an overactive bladder and if so, what should you do?

What is an Overactive Bladder?

Overactive Bladder, sometimes called OAB, is a condition where the muscles in the bladder spontaneously contract, even if the bladder isn’t very full, giving you strong, sudden urges to urinate. And, unfortunately, sometimes those urges are too much to control, leading to embarrassing bladder leakages. Some of the signs of OAB are:

  • Feeling the need to urinate 8 or more times in a day 
  • Getting up to use the bathroom 2 or more times at night
  • Getting sudden, strong urges to urinate that are hard to control 
  • Leaking urine at times. 

If you experience 2 or more of these signs, set up an appointment to talk to your doctor about overactive bladder and what you can do about it.

What causes OAB?

Although exact causes are not always known, sometimes overactive bladder is caused by nerve damage, possibly from a stroke or multiple sclerosis. Consuming too much caffeine or alcohol has also been shown to make the symptoms of OAB even worse. 

There are quite a few conditions that have similar symptoms to overactive bladder. Be sure to rule them out before trying any serious treatments. Some of the conditions that might seem to be overactive bladder include: 

  • Medications that cause an increase in urine production 
  • Medications that have to be taken with large amounts of fluid
  • A severe urinary tract infection, or UTI
  • A tumor in the bladder 
  • Bladder stones 
  • Abnormalities that obstruct the flow of urine, such as constipation or an enlarged prostate

How do you treat an overactive bladder?

Before opting for operations or medications, you should try behavioral strategies. A fluid schedule is a technique where you keep track of how much you drink and when. Try to only drink when you feel thirsty and don’t drink more than 8 ounces at a time. Note: if it is hot or if you have been exercising, do not limit your fluids. Other tips are to avoid carbonated drinks, caffeine, and alcohol. 

Making sure you fully empty your bladder each time you urinate can also be helpful. Another strategy is called bladder holding, where you slowly increase the amount of time you can wait to urinate once you feel the urge. Doing Kegel exercises are also recommended. Strengthening the pelvic floor muscles increases your bladder control. 

If behavioral strategies and lifestyle changes are not helping, talk to a doctor or a urologist such as those at idahourology.com about additional treatment options such as medications and surgeries for overactive bladder. 

What are the risk factors for OAB?

There are no specific risk factors. The greater your age, the greater your risk of developing an overactive bladder. Having other diseases such as diabetes or an enlarged prostate can increase your risk as well. A decrease in brain function, such as with stroke or Alzheimer’s can also be a risk of OAB.

Can overactive bladder be prevented?

Since the cause of OAB is not always known, prevention can be difficult. However, keeping yourself generally healthy will go a long way toward preventing many health problems.

  • Exercise daily 
  • Maintain a healthy weight 
  • don’t smoke 
  • Limit your caffeine and alcohol intake
  • Manage your diabetes 
  • Do Kegel exercises 

Living with an overactive bladder can be exhausting and embarrassing. If you are experiencing symptoms talk to your primary care doctor or a urologist near you, to find out what types of treatments are available to improve your quality of life. 

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What You Should Know About Overactive Bladder