Overactive Bladder

Understand more about overactive bladder symptoms and treatment

What is an overactive bladder?

Overactive bladder is characterized by the sudden need to urinate, no matter how full the bladder is. This sudden urge can be difficult to control. Patients describe frequent urination, as well as urine leakage (incontinence).

Overactive bladder is seen more frequently in women and the elderly. This disorder can be embarrassing and isolating causing people to withdraw from social interaction and intimate relationships. There are several medical reasons that can be attributed to sudden overactive bladder symptoms and treatment options are available for those affected by it.

Overactive Bladder Symptoms

Do you have the symptoms of overactive bladder?

The symptoms of overactive bladder include one or more of the following:

  • The sudden immediate urge to urinate
  • Frequent daytime urination
  • Frequent night time urination (nocturia)
  • Incontinence (involuntary loss of urine)

Overactive Bladder Causes

Why do people get overactive bladder?

When the bladder begins to fill, nerve signals notify the brain and the bladder continues to expand. Often, involuntary bladder contractions cause the signals to send an “urgent” message to the brain. Overactive bladder can be frustrating because many times, the person will rush to find a bathroom, only to have an empty bladder and be unable to void. Overactive bladder and urge incontinence often occur together. There are a variety of medical disorders that can cause them. Often, however, age is the only culprit. As the body ages, the stretching of the pelvic floor muscles cause the bladder to sag. This is called stress incontinence. Other possible causes for overactive bladder and urinary incontinence:

  • Excess consumption of caffeine and alcohol
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Enlarged prostate
  • Constipation
  • Kidney disease
  • Diabetes
  • Neurological Disorders: Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Stroke, Parkinson’s Disease

Overactive Bladder Treatment

How to cope with overactive bladder:

Before treating the overactive bladder itself, doctors will test to see if the symptoms are caused by a urinary tract or other infection. If so, medication will be prescribed. Once infection has been ruled out, doctors will focus their treatment plan on exercise, lifestyle changes and possibly, medication. Surgical intervention is only performed in severe cases when other treatments are not successful.

Exercise: Kegel exercises are used to help strengthen pelvic muscles that control urination.

Behavior Training: Also known as “bladder training.” Urologists focus on helping the body urinate at regular intervals and describe techniques that will help the patient hold urine for longer periods of time.

Lifestyle Changes: Cutting back on caffeine and alcohol, drinking less fluid. If medication is prescribed, it is done in conjunction with diligent exercise, behavior training and lifestyle changes, not in lieu of.

Medication: fesoterodine (Toviaz) tolterodine (Dextrol, Dextrol LA) darifenacin (Enablex) solifenacin (Vesicare) trospium (Sanctura) oxybutynin (Ditropan) oxybutynin skin patch (Oxytrol) oxybutynin skin gel (Gelnique)

Surgical Alternatives: Increase Bladder capacity by using a piece of the bowel to create a bigger bladder. Bladder Removal. A stoma (opening) is created in the body and a urine bag is attached. Both are considered major surgeries.

Absorbent Pads: Worn in undergarments or as undergarments depending upon the type, specially made absorbent pads collect accidental urine leakage.

Other ways to cope with overactive bladder:

Discuss side effects and possible drug interactions with your doctor before taking any over-the-counter natural or herbal medications. Herbal remedies for treating overactive bladder/incontinence:

  • Corn Silk
  • Saw Palmetto
  • Buchu plant

Overactive Bladder Prevention

Preventing overactive bladder is easier than you think.

If overactive bladder is due to an underlying neurological disorder, prevention methods may be minimal.

With a few lifestyle changes, symptoms of overactive bladder can be markedly improved.

  • Perform Kegel exercises on a regular basis to strengthen the pelvic muscles
  • Decrease fluids between dinner and bedtime
  • See your physician to make sure overactive bladder is not caused by early pregnancy symptoms or urinary tract infection.
  • Reduce or eliminate caffeine and alcohol

Overactive Bladder Resources

Urology Foundation – https://www.urologyhealth.org/