Overactive Bladder Vs Urinary Incontinence
- Condition in which the bladder can no longer hold urine normally.
- Often feel a sudden urge to urinate or experience an accident.
- Defining symptom is urgency, or the inability to postpone urination.
- OAB is typically a chronic problem
- Often requires strengthening of pelvic floor muscles to get rid of symptoms like urinary incontinence.
- Symptoms including urinary incontinence are ongoing.
- Bladder muscle problems at the root of it.
- Can result from regularly consuming alcohol and caffeine in large quantities.
- Serious health conditions can lead to OAB including a stroke, diabetes, kidney disease, multiple sclerosis , or Parkinsons disease.
- Is when you lose control of your bladder.
- Isnt a condition its a symptom.
- Is a symptom of OAB.
- Can be caused by a loss or weakening of control over the urinary sphincter.
- Can be a sign of something simple like a singular occasion of too much fluid consumption, a temporary problem.
- Is a common symptom of a UTI along with a burning sensation during urination and/or blood in the urine.
Weight Loss & Health Improvements To Reduce Your Symptoms
Studies suggest that losing excess weight can reduce the symptoms of stress incontinence and an overactive bladder.
What does this mean exactly? If you can lose about 8 percent of your body weight thats typically around 15 to 20 pounds you will likely see remarkable results. In fact, even just a few pounds of weight loss can reduce incontinence episodes by over 25%.
Aside from all the other health benefits, by losing weight the abdomen will alleviate pressure on all the organs in the area, including the bladder.
As well as weight loss, getting regular exercise can reduce overactive bowel symptoms. Exercise can help to reduce the strain on your bladder which ultimately means less urine leaks.
Stopping smoking can also help with OAB problems since the smoke from cigarettes can irritate your bladder. Smoking can also lead to hacking cough a loud, dry cough which can cause further leaks.
Medical Treatments For An Overactive Bladder
Depending on how successful they were and the strength of your condition, your doctor may recommend that you continue with the above treatments and return for another check-up after a specific period of time.
However, if they decide, usually in consultation with the patient, that medical treatment may be beneficial or necessary, they may choose to prescribe one or multiple medical treatments, some of which are detailed below.
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What Can You Do For An Overactive Bladder
Overactive bladder, or OAB, is a condition that causes a sudden urge to urinate, and affects both men and women. The urge may be difficult to stop, and overactive bladder may lead to the involuntary loss of urine, known as urge incontinence.
If you have overactive bladder, you may feel embarrassed, isolate yourself or limit your work and social life. The good news is that a brief evaluation can determine whether there’s a specific cause for your overactive bladder symptoms.
Is an overactive bladder common?
Overactive bladder affects over 33 million Americans. Urge incontinence is the most prominent form of incontinence among women in the U.S., where 1 in 4 women over 18 experience episodes of leaking urine involuntary.
What causes an overactive bladder?
Pregnancy, childbirth and menopause all are major reasons of the increased prevalence of incontinence in women as compared to men. Normally, when your bladder is full of urine, the brain signals the bladder to empty. Your bladder muscles contract and force urine out of the bladder. When the bladder is not full, your bladder is relaxed.
With a healthy bladder, the brain signals that the bladder is getting full, but there is time to wait to go to the bathroom. With overactive bladder, there is no waiting. People often feel a sudden urge to urinate. This also can happen if the bladder is not full.
When is it important to talk to a health care provider?
What can you do to reduce your risk of overactive bladder?
Will The Type Of Treatment Youre On Affect Your Diet
There are many medications that are available to treat overactive bladder. Most of these medications work by relaxing the bladder muscles to prevent bladder spasms. They can, however, have side effects, and those may in turn affect what you eat and drink.
A common side effect of OAB medications is dry mouth. This may cause you to drink more water than normal, which may then increase your oab symptoms. Keep an eye on how much water youre consuming, and try to take small sips throughout the day to avoid overloading your bladder.
Constipation is another potential side effect of OAB. Constipation places increased pressure on your bladder – a problem in general, but especially when you have overactive bladder. Patients who experience constipation can help relieve this symptom by eating fiber rich foods, such as the ones listed above.
Talk to your doctor about any potential side effects of OAB medications you may be taking or considering.
OAB can be a frustrating condition, and one that can be tricky to treat. Talk to your doctor about the diet changes you can make to improve your symptoms, and incorporate some of the tips above. With a few small tweaks to what you eat, you may soon be on to drier days.
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What Causes Overactive Bladder
An overactive bladder can be caused by several things, or even a combination of causes. Some possible causes can include:
- Weak pelvic muscles: Pregnancy and childbirth can cause your pelvic muscles to stretch and weaken. This can cause the bladder to sag out of its normal position. All of these factors can cause leakage.
- Nerve damage: Sometimes signals are sent to the brain and bladder to empty at the wrong time. Trauma and diseases can cause this to happen. These can include:
- Pelvic or back surgery.
Often, there may be no specific explanation for why this is occurring.
Surgery Is A Last Resort For Restoring Proper Bladder Function
If lifestyle measures, drug treatments, Botox, and neuromodulation therapy are all ineffective at relieving your symptoms, your doctor may consider more drastic surgical treatments for overactive bladder.
These surgical treatments are usually reserved for people with severe symptoms. At this point, two main surgical options are available:
Surgery to increase bladder capacity Surgically increasing the size of your bladder may help relieve pressure and improve its ability to store urine.
In this procedure, your doctor removes pieces of your bowel and uses them to replace a portion of your bladder.
If you have this surgery, you may need to use a catheter intermittently to urinate for the rest of your life.
Bladder removal As a last resort, your doctor may remove your bladder. A replacement bladder, called a neobladder, may be surgically constructed, or your urine may be routed to the outside of your body through a hole in your skin called a stoma.
If you have a stoma following this surgery, youll wear a bag or pouch on your skin to collect your urine.
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What Behavioral Changes Can I Make To Help With Overactive Bladder
There are many techniques and changes to your typical behavior that you can try to help with an overactive bladder. These can include:
Keeping a log: During a typical day, write down your fluid intake, the number of times you urinate, the number of accidents and when they occur. Make a note about what happened when the accident happened, like when you:
- Were unable to reach the bathroom in time.
Monitoring your diet: Eliminate or decrease foods or beverages that may worsen your bladder symptoms. These could include:
- Spicy and acidic foods and drinks.
- Foods and drinks that contain artificial sweeteners.
Maintaining bowel regularity: Constipation can place added pressure on the bladder and have a negative effect on your bladder function. By keeping healthy bowel habits, you may be able to avoid constipation and help to lessen bladder symptoms. The following are some suggestions for maintaining bowel regularity:
- Increase your fiber intake by eating foods like beans, pasta, oatmeal, bran cereal, whole wheat bread, and fresh fruit and vegetables.
- Every morning, take 2 tablespoons of this mixture: 1 cup apple sauce, 1 cup unprocessed wheat bran, and ¾ cup prune juice.
- Exercise regularly to maintain regular bowel movements.
Maintaining a healthy weight: Being overweight can add pressure on your bladder, which may contribute to bladder control problems. If you are overweight, weight loss can reduce the pressure on your bladder.
Go To The Toilet Only When You Need To
This may sound obvious, but if you are worried about being caught out, you may find yourself visiting the toilet more often, or just in case. Unfortunately, over time, this can make the problem worse because your bladder will get used to holding smaller and smaller quantities of urine. Then, if you go out and need to hold your urine a little longer, you are more likely to hit a problem. The best alternative is to make sure you are aware of where the toilets are, so when you are out and about you can make a quick exit if needed.
For many people with an overactive bladder , going out and about can pose a problem. The Bladder and Bowel Community issue a universally recognised Just Cant Wait card. Many women find this helpful as it helps to explain potentially difficult situations and help them reach the toilet that little bit sooner.
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Do I Have A Uti Or An Overactive Bladder
A common cause of urinary complaints, especially a change in your urination pattern, is a urinary tract infection, or UTI, McKnight said. If you visit with your healthcare provider and discuss a change in your urination such as an increased urge to urinate or leakage of urine, they will likely test for a UTI first. If you have a UTI, your symptoms will likely be quick and easy fix.
UTIs can cause feelings of pain when urinating, cloudy urine, lower abdominal pain and an increased urge to urinate. If you test negative for a UTI, your provider will ask questions about when you notice your bladder symptoms. Leaking urine or peeing a little when laughing or coughing is a sign of stress incontinence, McKnight explained. Suddenly needing to pee and not reaching the bathroom in time is a sign of urge incontinence. Both types of incontinence are treatable.
Cut Back On Diuretics Like Caffeine And Alcohol
Caffeine and alcohol are both double trouble, says Ramin. They’re diuretics and they stimulate bladder function. “If you suffer from urinary incontinence, one of your worst enemies can be caffeinated beverages,” he says. “Though it can be much easier said than done, limiting or eliminating caffeine altogether has been known to be successful in diminishing and resolving issues of urinary incontinence in some women.”
Similarly, he adds, “alcoholic beverages act as bladder stimulants and diuretics in most people. So when you have a problem with urinary continence, consuming even slight amounts of alcohol can make matters worse.”
If you can’t function without your daily cup of coffee, try to keep it to the morning so you’re not getting up to pee at night. And if you like having a glass of wine to wind down, at least limit it to one and keep it as far from bedtime as possible. Or, just take a break from caffeine or alcohol for a week or two, and see if the benefits you notice are worth it.
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Supplements For Adequate Nutrition
Developing a diet free of irritants can take some trial and error. During this time, its important to get the recommended amount of daily nutrients.
Be sure to talk with your doctor about your individual nutritional needs. They can help determine the appropriate supplements for you.
You may find it beneficial to supplement your diet with a daily multivitamin or nutrition drinks. Popular nutrition drinks include shakes, such as Boost or Ensure, and formulas, such as ProNourish.
Check in with your doctor before adding a supplement or nutrition drink to your regimen. Certain ingredients may interfere with your medications or otherwise negatively impact your overall health.
Try To Prevent Constipation
Constipation causes the colon to swell and strain because of increased abdominal muscle pressure. This can adversely affect the bladder muscles and may also increase the frequency and severity of OAB symptoms.
Eating more fiber, getting regular exercise, and staying hydrated can help prevent constipation. In addition, there are certain yoga poses including the Crescent Lunge, Cobra, and Legs up the Wall that can help relieve constipation and promote healthy bowel movements.
Those who experience chronic constipation should talk with a doctor to learn more about other ways to help manage their constipation more effectively, such as by taking medications or trying physical therapy.
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What Foods And Drinks To Avoid
While you may want to drink less liquid so you dont have to urinate as often, you should still make sure you stay hydrated. More concentrated urine, usually darker in color, can irritate your bladder and cause more frequent urination.
Other foods and drinks can contribute to OAB symptoms, including:
- tomato-based foods
You can test which drinks or foods irritate your bladder by eliminating them from your diet. Then reincorporate them one by one every two to three days at a time. Permanently eliminate the particular food or drink that worsens your symptoms.
Other Treatments For An Overactive Bladder
If bladder training is not as effective as you would like, there are a number of other options that can be tried. Usually, the next option is to trial some medication. Examples include oxybutynin and tolterodine these medications are known as antimuscarinics and work by blocking certain nerve impulses to the bladder causing the detrusor muscle to relax. Although often effective, these medications can cause a number of side effects such as a dry mouth or constipation.
If medication is not helpful, there are still a number of options available to try, including botox treatments to the bladder wall, nerve stimulation, or occasionally surgery. Most women, however, find that they may have a significant improvement from bladder training, so it is definitely worth trying this first.
Featured image is of a sign indicating that there are toilets nearby. The sign depicts two cartoon figures a man and a woman crouching down as if they are desperate to use the toilet
If you often experience a sudden urge to pass urine, or have to pass small amounts of urine more often than normal, it may be a sign that you have an overactive bladder.
An overactive bladder may also be known as an irritable bladder or detrusor instability . The rapid contraction of this muscle results in a sudden need to pass urine, and for some women can result in a leakage of urine. This is known as urge incontinence.
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How Can Nerve Stimulation Help Overactive Bladder
There are several treatments that involve stimulating your nerves to help improve overactive bladder. Your nerves help communicate the message that your bladder needs to be emptied to your brain. By treating the nerves, your healthcare provider can improve your bladder control. Nerve stimulation is a reversible treatment that is considered when conservative treatments have not worked or have not been tolerated. Conservative treatments include behavioral therapies and medications.
There are several types of nerve stimulation treatments. These can include:
Try To Avoid Caffeine Carbonated Drinks Sugar Alcohol And Spicy Or Acidic Foods
- Caffeine is a diuretic which makes you need to use the bathroom more often.
- Carbonated drinks and sugar are thought to stimulate the bladder.
- Alcohol switches off the ability of your body to concentrate urine. This means you tend to urinate more dilute, watery urine, which dehydrates you. Since you are dehydrated, you may drink more.
- Acidic or spicy food may aggravate your overactive bladder and worsen your symptoms. Certain acidic fruit and juices like orange, grapefruit, lemon and lime can aggravate your bladder, too.
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How Bad Is It
Your doctor may ask you questions to help figure out how much OAB is affecting your life. For example, you could rate on a scale of 1 to 5 how much you’ve been bothered by things like accidental leaks, lots of daytime bathroom breaks, and waking up at night to go. Your doctor might also ask you to keep a voiding diary of your bathroom trips.
Overactive Bladder Treatment Options
Research indicates that most people believe the symptoms of an overactive bladder are an inevitable and normal part of growing older, rather than a treatable medical problem. This couldnt be further from the truth.
In fact, fewer than half of individuals with incontinence actually consult a healthcare provider about their problem. This is unfortunate, since there are many treatments available to combat symptoms of OAB.
Even though it may feel embarrassing to talk about your condition, its important to talk to your doctor about your incontinence symptoms. Watch our short film below about the importance of speaking up about bladder leakage.
NAFC is excited to debut a short film about coming to terms with overactive bladder and incontinence. About just how challenging it can be to admit that there’s a problem. And also about how facing up to that reality can be an important first step towards drier days. Watch this short video about OAB, and about how not speaking up can create more problems than staying silent.
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