While some Thanksgiving foods may be delicious, they also have the potential to cause issues for those suffering from an Overactive Bladder. This article will explore what OAB is and which meals may trigger its symptoms on Thanksgiving day. But first, What is an Overactive Bladder?

What is an Overactive Bladder

OAB, or Overactive Bladder, is the urgent and frequent need to empty your bladder. Also called "spastic bladder" or "irritable bladder," OAB affects an estimated 33 million people in the USA alone. And half of those affected by OAB also struggle with UUI, or Urgency Urinary Incontinence, which is when leakage occurs.

Overactive bladder can be a minor annoyance or a debilitating condition. It's frustrating to go to the bathroom frequently, and it can cause anxiety, shame, and even depression when accompanied by urinary incontinence.

Although most people believe this, an overactive bladder is not standard with age. It's an actual medical condition that requires treatment and should not be ignored.

Common Overactive Bladder Symptoms

Several vital symptoms characterize the overactive bladder. These would include:

  • Urinary urgency: feeling the sudden urge to urinate, even if you recently emptied your bladder
  • Leaky bladder syndrome, where you accidentally pee after feeling a sudden urge to go
  • Going to the bathroom more than eight times a day.
  • Waking up once or more in the night to urinate is called nocturia.

Common Causes of Overactive Bladder

The kidneys produce urine and send it to the bladder. The sphincter muscle controls the urine flow in or out of the bladder. Your brain signals you to empty your bladder when it is approximately half full (most people can handle about 2 cups). The coordination between relaxing the sphincter and contracting the bladder muscles breaks down during incontinence, causing leaks.

With an Overactive Bladder, a person may experience a sudden sense of urgency but cannot reach the toilet before losing control and urinating. The urine loss can be significant, often soaking underwear and outer clothing.

Something as common and innocuous as running water or the anticipation of needing to urinate can cause a bladder spasm. In less common cases, people who have physical limitations may not be able to reach the toilet in time, resulting in an accident.

Standard Treatment Options for Overactive Bladder

Contrary to popular belief, an overactive bladder (with symptoms like urinary urgency, frequency, and incontinence) is not normal for aging. It is a treatable medical problem. It's pretty uncommon for people with incontinence to talk to a healthcare provider, which is unfortunate because many treatments are available.

Although you might feel weird discussing your incontinence with anyone, you must voice your concerns to your doctor. Before you can start treatment, you need to see your doctor. They will ask you many questions and give you a thorough evaluation to ensure they get an accurate diagnosis.

If you want to improve your condition, know that many treatment options are available. Work with your doctor to determine which ones might be best for you based on the specifics of your situation. These could include:

  • Dietary changes. Citrus foods, spicy dishes, sugar, and caffeine are all known to worsen bladder issues. By keeping track of which foods bother your bladder the most, cut them out of your diet and improve your overactive bladder symptoms.
  • Fluid management. Reducing or eliminating dietary irritants (i.e., coffee, colas) with approval from your doctor, as well as limiting fluids but still consuming 6-8 8 oz glasses of water daily, may improve OAB symptoms.
  • Bladder retraining. By working out bladder muscles, you can train your body to hold urine for extended periods. This method is not only effective in treating urinary frequency and urgency issues, but it can also improve quality of life.
  • Pelvic Floor Muscle Exercises. Weakened pelvic floor muscles may cause an overactive bladder and the leaks associated with it. Ask your doctor if kegel exercises are a good solution for you.
  • Biofeedback. There are now several devices that can help tell you how strong your pelvic floor muscles are, both ones that can be used in the comfort of your own home and some that pelvic floor physical therapists may use during appointments. Biofeedback tools measure your pelvic floor strength and help you learn the correct muscles to engage with when performing strength exercises.
  • Injection Therapy
  • Sacral nerve stimulation. This implant sends electrical stimulation to the nerves that help control bladder function.

Tips For Avoiding Overactive Bladder Issues on Thanksgiving

If you have experienced OAB in the past, be cautious of these foods this Thanksgiving:

  • Cranberry Sauce – Any berries can irritate the bladder and sugar. This makes cranberry sauce one of the leading bladder-irritating Thanksgiving foods. To avoid this irritation, eat fresh turkey without this topping and use a minimal-dairy gravy instead.
  • Green Bean Casserole – Some people may find that milk products irritate their bladder. However, dairy is less likely to irritate citrus fruit, tomatoes, coffee, or soda. A better Alternative would be cornbread or stuffing/dressing (without fruit).
  • Pecan Pie – Pecan pies are full of sugar, which can irritate your bladder. A healthier option would be a homemade pumpkin pie with less sugar and no preservatives.
  • Coffee – Both regular and decaf coffee can cause bladder irritation, so avoiding it altogether is probably the best course of action. If you need a hot drink, try herbal tea instead. Lower-acid varieties of coffee are available if you find giving up your morning cup too hard, but be aware that caffeine might still irritate your bladder.
  • Alcohol – Although many people enjoy alcohol, it can cause bladder irritation. This is especially true if the drink contains carbonation.

Don’t Wait and Get Help For Your Overactive Bladder

The first step to beating urinary urgency is admitting that you need help. Discussing such a personal topic with your doctor might not feel very comfortable, but remember that they're professionals and want nothing more than to help you. To make the most of your appointment, keep a bladder diary for several days leading up to it. This will give your doctor an idea of how often this happens and if any specific events or activities trigger it.

Before your appointment:

  1. Jot down a few questions to ensure you remember everything during the conversation with your doctor.
  2. Ask about treatment options he thinks may work for you or inquire about ones you've read that interest you.
  3. Discuss any potential side effects of proposed treatments and what kind of success rate can realistically be expected.

Schedule an appointment with one of Mississippi Urology Clinic Urologists today to get help for your Overactive Bladder.