Millions of Americans live with an overactive bladder and have to face this challenging condition every day.
An overactive bladder can be a sign of serious medical concerns. Even in more mild circumstances, it can cause depression and social isolation, as there is a stigma around having an overactive bladder that prevents many adults from seeking treatment. However, this condition is very common and plenty of treatment options are available.
What is an Overactive Bladder?
An overactive bladder causes you to urinate more often during both the day and night. This is defined as being more than 8 times during the day and more than twice at night. There are some notable symptoms for this condition:
- A Sudden and Urgent Need to Urinate
- Urine Leakage
- Feeling Like You Can’t Empty Your Bladder
- Feeling Like You Need to Urinate Even When Your Bladder is Empty
- Incontinence or Difficulty Controlling Urination
An overactive bladder can be a sign of serious medical problems and can have complications.
Overactive bladders can either be temporary problems caused by minor conditions or signs of something much more serious. While the overactive bladder itself is not very dangerous, it can lead to some medical problems including:
- Social Isolation
- Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)
- Nerve Damage
- Problems for Family and Caretakers
What are Some Treatment Options for Overactive Bladder?
With how prominent this condition is amongst Americans, it’s no wonder that there are many treatment options, such as the following…
1. Keeping a Bladder Diary
Keeping a bladder diary can be a great way to make your first steps to fixing your overactive bladder. So, just what is a bladder diary, anyway? It lets you track how often you urinate and other important information about your bladder that you can use to make more informed medical decisions. You can’t go wrong with good information!
Why Keeping a Bladder Diary Can Help
It can be hard to tell if your bladder is overactive or not. Having a diary lets you track your urination to find out how often it actually occurs. Not only that, but you can track things like incontinence, diet, and other related experiences. This information helps you to narrow your overactive bladder triggers and find better ways to treat your condition.
Another treatment plan you can try is timed urination…
2. Timed Urination
Most people typically urinate on an as-needed basis. For those with an overactive bladder, this need can be more often than is comfortable. Timed urination therefore sets a schedule for when you can urinate.
Why Timed Urination Can Help
This scheduling of urination can help you to both track your urination and change your habits over time. By scheduling urination, you can take back control over your overactive bladder and have a sense of stability with a usually chaotic condition.
This step is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to changing your urination habits, though…
3. Changing Your Urination Habits
When we live with an overactive bladder, it can start to control our lives; our urination habits become dictated by the frequent and sudden urges to urinate. Changing these habits can subsequently help make this condition more mild.
Why Changing Your Urination Habits Can Help
Instead of following the urges sent by an overactive bladder, you can instead choose to work toward having more control over your urination. Strategies like waiting a short amount of time after an urge strikes or deep breathing strategies can go a long way to helping you control your bladder.
Another aspect of your life that can be controlled (and help an overactive bladder) is your diet…
4. Changes to Your Diet
Our diets have huge impacts on our health. This fact is true for overactive bladders just as it is for the rest of the body. By changing what we eat and drink, we can help calm an overactive bladder.
Why Changes to Your Diet Can Help
There are many foods that can make an overactive bladder worse. Diuretics—that is, foods and beverages that promote urination—can be lowered or eliminated to calm an overactive bladder. These foods include alcohol and caffeine.
If you’ve been keeping a bladder journal, you can also track which foods make your overactive bladder symptoms worse and which foods help you regain control.
Speaking of gaining control, exercise is a great way to build up bladder strength…
5. Exercising Your Pelvic Muscles
Your pelvic muscles help you control urination. In fact, these are the muscles that you call into action to “hold it in.” Exercising your pelvic muscles can therefore help you have more control over your bladder.
Why Exercising Your Pelvic Muscles Can Help
Some cases of overactive bladder can be either caused or made worse by weak pelvic muscles. Doing pelvic exercises, such as kegels, can strengthen your muscles. Another exercise known as quick flicks—where you squeeze and release your pelvic floor muscles—can help you gain control over the “got to go” feeling.
In addition to methods you can do yourself, there are also prescription medications your doctor can provide…
6. Prescription Medications
Some cases of overactive bladder can benefit from prescription medications. These drugs can help you manage your overactive bladder, depending on what has caused your particular condition.
Why Prescription Medication Can Help
Overactive bladders are medical conditions. Depending on what has caused your particular case, there can be some effective medicines to treat your condition. Overactive bladders caused by infections, for example, can be treated with antivirals or antibiotics.
Another way a doctor can help you with your overactive bladder is with nerve stimulation…
7. Nerve Stimulation
Many cases of overactive bladder are caused by problems with the nerves that connect the bladder to the brain. Nerve stimulation sends electric charges to these nerves in an effort to restore their functionality.
Why Nerve Stimulation Can Help
Nerve stimulation helps your body to promote and restore the nerve connections between your bladder and your brain. Many instances of overactive bladder are caused by these connections being unreliable. When these nerves are stimulated, the connections they create can have some functionality restored.
Another technologically advanced therapy is biofeedback…
8. Biofeedback Therapy
If you want a high-tech way to treat your overactive bladder, then biofeedback therapy might be the right choice for you. This treatment uses scientific monitoring equipment to give you direct data about how your body is operating.
Why Biofeedback Therapy Can Help
The more information you have, the better. Biofeedback therapy can give you some truly concrete information about how your bladder is operating. This data lets you and your doctor make stronger decisions about your treatment.
A less high-tech way, but one that is very effective, to treat some of an overactive bladder’s worst symptoms are the following…
9. Absorbent Pads
One of the most difficult parts of living with an overactive bladder is the urine leakage and incontinence. These symptoms can create difficult social situations, which can lead to depression and isolation. Absorbent pads can help with this issue.
Why Absorbent Pads Can Help
Absorbent pads give you the freedom to enjoy your life without worrying as much about urine leakage and incontinence. These pads are discrete and absorb small amounts of urine, which protects your clothing. This treatment makes a great supplement to other strategies to help you get your life back on track.
Another change you can make that will help give you more control is the following…
10. Quitting Smoking
Smoking is bad for your health in just about every way it can be. It’s therefore no surprise that smoking aggravates an overactive bladder. Quitting smoking can subsequently help an overactive bladder calm down.
Why Quitting Smoking Can Help
Smoking increases the activity of the bladder and creates other medical conditions that can aggravate an overactive bladder. When you quit smoking, you can give yourself some advantages when it comes to managing an overactive bladder. Quitting smoking also improves your overall health, which gives you more resources to handle an overactive bladder.
Another change you can make over time is bladder training…
11. Bladder Training
Overactive bladders become “trained” to urinate on a chaotic schedule. The muscles of the body and, indeed, our minds, become used to urinating whenever the urge strikes. This issue can be confronted by retraining the bladder.
Why Bladder Training Can Help
Bladder training can change how often we urinate and when we urinate. Rather than urinating whenever the urge strikes, you can change your urination habits. A basic strategy includes starting at your natural urination schedule and gradually “training” your bladder by increasing the time between urination. Remember to listen to your body and don’t be afraid to decrease the time again if your overactive bladder gets worse.
The last tip on our list is both a great way to handle an overactive bladder and an all-around health tip…
12. Staying Hydrated
When individuals have an overactive bladder, they can be tempted to intentionally dehydrate themselves. This behavior doesn’t actually prevent overactive bladder symptoms. In fact, it can aggravate some of the underlying causes. Staying hydrated promotes health, including for the bladder.
Why Staying Hydrated Can Help
Staying hydrated boosts your overall health. This boost helps fight back against many of the causes of an overactive bladder, such as infections. That means you should feel free to drink to satisfy your thirst even if you have an overactive bladder. Intentional dehydration is dangerous for your health and only leads to worse problems down the road.
Stay hydrated and talk to your doctor about some of the effective, long-term treatments on this slideshow.
What’s Most Important to Remember About Overactive Bladders?
Overactive bladders are very common. While they can be a difficult condition to confront, there are plenty of strategies, medicines, and remedies for you to find the relief you’ve been looking for. Finding help for your overactive bladder starts with learning about your treatment options. The next step is up to you. Talk with your doctor today about these treatments and begin working with one that is right for your specific condition.