OAB: When The Bathroom Won’t Wait

Overactive bladder (OAB) causes a sudden, often uncontrollable, urge to urinate. This can be an embarrassing condition, especially when it causes incontinence. Many people who suffer from OAB tend to isolate themselves and limit work or social activities. Fortunately, there are treatments to alleviate symptoms. Symptoms can include a sudden urge to urinate that is hard to control, frequent urination (more than eight times in 24 hours), and slight incontinence after an urgent need to urinate. OAB can also cause awakening twice or more during the night to urinate.

When you can’t cross your legs

When people who suffer from OAB feel the need to urinate, it often feels as though they cannot wait. This is because OAB causes the bladder’s muscles to begin to contract involuntarily, even though there may not be much urine in the bladder. People who have diabetes, a neurological disorder, or a severe urinary tract infection are more prone to OAB. Other risk factors include aging, incomplete bladder emptying, and an enlarged prostate.

Don’t be a wallflower with OAB

OAB can cause anxiety, emotional distress, and depression, particularly if it is accompanied by incontinence. But OAB does not mean sufferers have to isolate themselves or stop participating in activities they enjoy. Medical treatment can provide an effective solution to urinary symptoms.

The doctor’s orders

Doctors often recommend bladder training to relieve OAB. Bladder training involves the patient resisting the urge to urinate for just a few minutes before going to the bathroom. Gradually, over time, the waiting period is increased until the patient can wait up to an hour or more before going to the bathroom.  If symptoms are severe, some doctors may prescribe anticholinergic medication for OAB. These drugs work by blocking acetylcholine the chemical which causes the bladder to contract. Blocking it can reduce the frequency of bladder contractions and prevent the urgent need to urinate.

DIY bladder control

People with OAB can reduce the symptoms by making a few lifestyle changes. These include getting regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, and limiting consumption of caffeine and alcohol. Doing Kegel exercises can also help to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. Quitting smoking can also improve the symptoms of OAB.

Holding your own with OAB

A number of foods and drinks can contribute to OAB. Cutting them out may help to relieve symptoms. These include spicy foods, tomato-based foods, chocolate, and citrus fruits. Drinks worth eliminating are soda, drinks containing artificial sweeteners, and tea.  OAB sufferers can test which foods and beverage irritate their bladder by eliminating them from the diets. Reincorporating them one at a time every three days will reveal the culprits. Once known, these can be eliminated permanently.