A group of urinary symptoms is known as overactive bladder. Overactive bladder is not a disease. The most common symptom of an overactive bladder is the sudden and uncontrollable urge to urinate. It is normal for some to leak urine when they have this urge.
Overactive bladder is common in the United States. As many as 30% of men and 40% of women live with symptoms of an overactive bladder. Some individuals may feel embarrassed about their symptoms, therefore, won’t seek help. There are many available treatments that could help someone with an overactive bladder. The first step to treatment will be to muster up the courage and talk to your healthcare provider about your symptoms.
How an overactive bladder may affect your life
It is no secret that an overactive bladder could come in the way of your daily life. Work, social life, and sleep may need to take a back seat when an overactive bladder is present. An overactive bladder will cause many trips to the bathroom to control your day. Therefore, seeking treatment is extremely beneficial. Going out with friends or far from home may be a nightmare scenario as you are unable to phantom being too far away from a bathroom. As a result, many individuals begin to feel isolated and lonely.
Your sex life, as well as sleep, could be disrupted by an overactive bladder. The lack of sleep could cause you to become depressed. An overactive bladder may cause you to leak urine, and in addition, you may develop skin problems or infections.
Some truths about overactive bladders
- An overactive bladder is not only a part of getting older.
- An overactive bladder is not part of being a woman.
- An overactive bladder is not just a prostate issue.
- An overactive bladder cannot be caused by something you did.
- An overactive bladder can be treated without surgery.
- There are treatments to help you manage the symptoms caused by an overactive bladder.
- Minor symptoms of an overactive bladder can be treated as well.
The key symptoms
Urgency: One of the biggest signs of an overactive bladder is the sudden urge to urinate. The feeling often pairs with a fear of leaking if a bathroom isn’t nearby.
- Leaking urine. Also known as urge incontinence, is when urine leaks as soon as you feel the urge to go. This is different to stress urinary incontinence. A person with stress urinary incontinence leaks urine whenever they laugh, sneeze, or do physical activities.
- Frequent urination. The urge to visit the bathroom might be frequent and happen many times during the day. Experts agree that visiting the bathroom more than 8 times within 24 hours is classified as frequent urination.
- Waking up at night due to an urge to urinate. Doing this more than once during the night is a sign of an overactive bladder.
Possible causes of an overactive bladder
Generally, when a bladder becomes full of urine, your brain will then signal the bladder. The bladder muscles will then begin to squeeze. This action forces the urine through the urethra. The sphincter in the urethra will then open, allowing urine to flow out. Whenever the bladder is not full, the bladder is relaxed.
With a healthy bladder, signals are sent through the brain to let you know that your bladder is either full or getting full. You’ll still be able to wait before going to the bathroom. When you have an overactive bladder, waiting is impossible. The urge to urinate will feel sudden and urgent and can happen even if your bladder isn’t full.
An overactive bladder can result from the nerves signals between your bladder and brain not working properly. These signals may tell your bladder to empty even when it isn’t full. An overactive bladder may also be caused by the muscles in your bladder being too active. Muscles in the bladder contract to pass urine before the bladder is full. This will cause a strong and sudden urge to urinate. This is called ‘urgency’.
Possible causes of an overactive bladder
- Neurologic disorders or damage to the signals between the brain and bladder.
- Hormone changes
- Pelvic muscle weakness or spasms
- A urinary tract infection
- Side effects from medication
- Diseases that would affect the brain or spinal cord, such as stroke and multiple sclerosis.
6 Steps to overcoming overactive bladder
In order to treat an overactive bladder, the first step would be to make lifestyle changes. In this section, we’ll discuss the important steps you can take to overcome your overactive bladder.
Avoid foods and drinks that could bother your bladder. Certain foods and drinks have been known to irritate the bladder. These foods and drinks include:
- Soda as well as other fizzy drinks
- Some citrus fruits
- Tomato-Based foods
- Spicy foods
Keep a diary for your bladder. To understand your body better, it is advised that you write it down whenever you make trips to the bathroom. The diary may also show you if something has made symptoms worse. You’ll notice if certain foods or drinks have triggered your overactive bladder.
Emptying your bladder twice is known as double voiding. This is often helpful for individuals who have trouble fully emptying their bladders the first time. After you have gone to the bathroom, wait a few seconds to a minute, and try again.
Delayed voiding is when you try and wait as long as possible before going to the bathroom, even if you need to go. You’ll start by waiting only a few minutes, and after time you may be able to wait two to three hours. Don’t try this without the advice of your healthcare provider. It is possible to feel worse or have urine leaks if you wait too long to go to the bathroom.
Timed urination is done by following a daily bathroom schedule. You no longer use the bathroom when you feel the urge. You have set specific times in which you may use the bathroom. With help from your healthcare provider, you’ll be able to come up with a reasonable schedule. The goal of this exercise is to prevent the feeling of urgency and to regain control of your bladder.
Do exercises to relax your bladder muscles.
- Kegel exercises. Tightening your pelvic muscles and holding them tight.
- Quick flicks. Quickly squeeze and relax your pelvic floor muscles repeatedly
- Biofeedback. May teach you about your bladder by using computer graphs and sounds to monitor muscle movement.
In a nutshell
An overactive bladder can be treated. You should not feel ashamed of it. Before medications are administered, be sure and try to practise lifestyle changes first.
Adam Mulligan did his degree in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. He is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.