Are you plagued by a nagging, uncomfortable urgency to visit the restroom? You're not alone. An overactive bladder (OAB) affects millions of people worldwide and can be an unpredictable condition that's difficult to manage. Bladder problems are frequently embarrassing and can prevent sufferers from leading their desired activity level, but hope exists!
Through improved understanding, OAB patients have access to helpful interventions that provide relief from these bothersome symptoms. In this blog post, we will explore what an overactive bladder is, its triggers, and the primary symptoms associated with it – as well as possible treatments for managing the condition so one can enjoy a life free of frustrating bathroom visits. Read on if you’re interested in learning more about how to gain control of your symptom-causing overactive bladder!
What is an Overactive Bladder (OAB)?
An overactive bladder (OAB) is a common yet often overlooked condition that can lead to feelings of embarrassment for those living with it. OAB is characterized by an intense urgency to urinate, frequent urge-related accidents, and uncontrollable bladder leakage. It is caused by a seemingly never-ending or spastic contraction of the muscles in the bladder wall. It is often a side effect of medications people take, such as blood pressure and psychiatric medicines.
All ages are susceptible to OAB, but it is particularly common in women over 65, while men tend to develop it between 45-60 years old. If someone suspects they may have OAB, it is best to seek diagnostic testing as soon as possible. Not only can symptoms be concerning, but also put a person at risk for urinary tract infections, bed wetting, and skin breakdown from uncontrolled leakage and incontinence due to undiagnosed OAB. With proper diagnosis and treatment, this troubling condition can be managed effectively.
Signs and Symptoms of OAB
Specific signs and symptoms of OAB may include a sudden urge to urinate that is difficult to control, frequent trips to the bathroom, having to wake up during the night to urinate more than once, a sudden uncontrolled release of urine, prostate issues in men, and urinary tract infections in both men and women. If you are experiencing any combination of these signs, it is important to discuss them with your healthcare provider so they can assess if treatment is necessary.
Causes of OAB
Overactive Bladder (OAB) is a condition where the bladder contracts too often and leads to difficulty in controlling the release of urine. It can be caused by neurological diseases and conditions such as stroke, neurodegenerative diseases, spinal cord or brain injuries, encephalitis, and diabetes. Sometimes, OAB may also be caused by lifestyle choices such as consuming caffeinated beverages, excessive liquid intake, aging, smoking, and obesity.
Other factors that can contribute are taking certain medications, having an enlarged prostate gland, or urinary tract abnormalities such as stones in the kidney or bladder. It is important to identify and treat OAB early as it may cause embarrassment, severe discomfort, and social isolation for those affected. Consulting with a doctor can help diagnose possible underlying causes of OAB and to obtain appropriate treatment options.
While diagnosing OAB can be a complex task, and it varies from patient to patient, several medical tests can help identify underlying causes and provide useful information regarding the severity of the condition.
In most cases, healthcare professionals will want to collect a detailed medical history to understand fully what symptoms are present. Commonly performed tests may include analysis of urine samples, cystometrogram studies, which assess the functioning of the bladder, or neurological exams to determine urinary control reflexes. Following these tests, many patients find that a tailored treatment plan helps them manage their OAB and begin living free from discomfort or embarrassment.
Treatment Options for OAB
Luckily, there are several treatments available to those who suffer from OAB. Bladder training, which includes techniques such as using the restroom regularly and gradually increasing the amount of time between intended trips to the restroom, can help reduce symptoms and also helps give patients a sense of control over their condition.
For those seeking one-time solutions, injections of Botox into the bladder wall or medications that suppress nerve hypersensitivity can have a significant impact on urinary urgency and frequency. Other therapeutic approaches include noninvasive neuromodulation and electrical stimulation therapy to help relieve muscle spasms in the bladder and surrounding tissue. Whatever works for the individual is preferred, but with various options, it is helpful to consult with your healthcare provider before making any decisions or committing to any treatment plan.
Tips for Living with an Overactive Bladder
Living with an overactive bladder can be extremely challenging for many people; however, several strategies can help manage the condition. Regular exercise is one of the best tips for improving bladder function. Strengthening pelvic floor muscles through exercises designed to target the area will make them stronger and less likely to contract at inappropriate times.
Additionally, urinary continence can be improved by staying hydrated, limiting or avoiding caffeine, and avoiding activities that increase abdominal pressure, such as lifting heavy objects or jumping. Finally, regular trips to the bathroom, no matter how frequently they might be necessary, will help individuals cope with bladder spasms before they become too intense. Overall, these simple tips should help those living with an overactive bladder see improvement in their symptoms and quality of life. If you're experiencing persistent or extreme symptoms of an overactive bladder, get medical attention is essential. Schedule an appointment with one of Mississippi Urology Clinic Urologists today to get help keeping your urinary system healthy.