Do you find yourself suddenly needing to go to the bathroom without warning? Do you worry about socializing or spending time away from home because you're experiencing urine leakage? Do you need to urinate more often than usual or even experience unexpected urination at night (also known as nocturia)?
If so, it's possible you may be living with a form of urinary incontinence called overactive bladder.
We want to assure you that you are not the only one dealing with this condition. In fact, overactive bladder, which is also known as OAB, affects approximately 33 million Americans. However, according to the Official Foundation of the American Urological Association, that number may be higher than reported, since there are a lot of people living with symptoms of incontinence or overactive bladder who feel embarrassed to talk about it or see their doctor.
We want to empower you with the information you need to be able to ask for help and discuss your symptoms with your treating physician. Here are some answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about overactive bladder, which we hope will help you learn more about this condition, including its symptoms, potential causes, and treatment options.
What Is Overactive Bladder?Overactive bladder is just what it sounds like: a bladder that's working overtime.
Some of the main symptoms of overactive bladder include:
- sudden urge to urinate
- urine leakage
- making more trips to the bathroom than before
Those living with overactive bladder may also experience secondary symptoms, which may include:
- fatigue from disrupted sleep due to nocturia
- decreased social activity
What Causes Overactive Bladder?Overactive bladder can happen to anyone at any time. However, it's important to know that both age and gender may potentially be related causes.
Pelvic floor muscles and even the muscles of the bladder sometimes weaken as our bodies age. This is one of the reasons why urinary incontinence tends to happen more frequently to women than men, since hormonal fluctuations and childbirth are a common cause of weakened pelvic floor muscles.
There are a variety of other factors that could trigger an overactive bladder.
Sometimes, people may experience symptoms of overactive bladder caused by lifestyle changes. These cases are are often only temporary.
For example, a night of drinking a little too much alcohol can lead to increased bladder activity and even bed-wetting. Drinking too many fluids in general makes one urinate more frequently as well. Bladder irritants and diuretics like caffeine can also function in the same way, leading the body to release more urine than normal. You may want to speak to your doctor about the right amounts and types of fluid to intake for your individual needs.
However, there are some serious underlying conditions that can cause chronic urinary incontinence and overactive bladder as well. Neurological disorders like Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and Parkinson’s disease carry risk factors for overactive bladder. Diabetes and kidney disease are two others.
This is why it is so important to see your doctor and get properly diagnosed, especially if your symptoms have lasted for longer than a few days or weeks.
How is Overactive Bladder Treated?The treatment for an overactive bladder will mainly depend on the cause.
In some of the aforementioned instances of drinking too many fluids like alcohol or coffee, a little diet modification may be all that is necessary.
Sometimes, it's as simple as strengthening your pelvic floor muscles. Your doctor may suggest specific exercises like Kegels to help strengthen those muscles and get your bladder back in proper working order.
Your doctor may also recommend the use of intermittent catheters.
Medication may also help some people, while surgery may be required in more serious situations.
Again, the most important thing to know is that it is absolutely normal to experience these kinds of symptoms, and it is perfectly alright to ask for help from your healthcare provider. They will not judge or shame you; they're here to help you! If you notice symptoms of overactive bladder or other changes to your urinary system, we recommend that you schedule an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible.
If your treatment plan requires the use of intermittent catheters to help treat the symptoms of overactive bladder or urinary incontinence, 180 Medical is here for you every step of the way.
As the leading catheter supplier in the nation, we carry a full line of catheter products from the top brands and manufacturers on the market today.
Our catheter specialists are ready to help you find the right catheter product for your needs and preferences. Give us a call today!
Disclaimer: This blog should not be taken as medical advice and is only intended to provide a general understanding of overactive bladder. This information should not be used in place of any recommendations, prescribed treatment plans, or medical advice from your professional healthcare provider.
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