Taking an Active Role in Managing an Overactive Bladder
Home Health Care
May 05, 2023
4 min read
What causes overactive bladder? Is this condition a normal part of getting older? How is overactive bladder treated? My symptoms have impacted activities that I enjoy.
An overactive bladder (OAB, also referred to as urge incontinence) can happen when communication between your bladder and brain tells you it’s time to urinate before your bladder is full. Your bladder muscle contracts too early or uncontrollably, creating leakage, the strong sudden need to “go right away”,and going too often.
Overactive bladder grows more common as people get older, but it isn’t confined to older people. Middle- agers, young adults, and even children can have the condition. See your healthcare provider. Medications that relax the bladder can be helpful for relieving symptoms of overactive bladder and reducing episodes of urge incontinence. It may help to keep track of these things for 3 or 4 days before your appointment: what and how much you drink; and how often and how much you urinate and leak.
Overactive bladder is common—and treatable. You may be able to help manage your overactive bladder with these lifestyle and behavioral modifications—diet changes, pelvic muscle exercises, and bladder retraining (urinating at timed intervals). They’re often effective, and they carry no side effects. Ask your healthcare provider for his or her advice before trying any of these tips on your own.
Avoid foods and drinks that can irritate the bladder (contributing to urine leaks): alcoholic beverages, carbonated beverages, caffeinated drinks, artificially sweetened drinks, coffee (even decaf), tomatoes and tomato products, citrus fruits and juices, highly spiced foods, corn syrup, honey, and chocolate. Focus on fiber as constipation can worsen OAB symptoms. Aim for six glasses of water spaced throughout the day. Cranberry, grape, cherry, and apple juices are also good choices. Being overweight can put extra pressure on your bladder. Cut back on high-calorie foods which could lead to weight gain.
If you smoke, try to quit. Quitting may make you cough less, which may help with incontinence. If lifestyle changes and medications do not work to treat your OAB, you may want to consider surgery. Remember that surgical options come with significant risks and side effects, so be sure to weigh your options thoroughly.
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