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Articles > Controlling the Urge What You Need to Know About Overactive Bladder

Controlling the Urge What You Need to Know About Overactive Bladder

Rita Ross

Provided by HealthMonitor

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Sure, it can be embarrassing to bring up bathroom habits with your doctor. But don’t let that stop you from getting help if you need it. Frequent, strong urges to urinate are common. And they can strike anytime, anywhere, making life a bit harder to navigate.

There is a name for this problem: overactive bladder (OAB). If you think you’re alone in having it, you’re not. About one out of every 11 adults in the United States experience OAB. Although it is most common in older people, OAB is not considered a normal part of aging. And it’s more than just an annoyance. It can repeatedly awaken you at night, disrupt your work or family schedule, and interfere with social activities.

Overactive bladder results in sudden contractions or spasms of muscles in the wall of the bladder—the body’s balloon-like “holding tank” for urine. Urine is produced in the kidneys, then travels down tubes to your bladder and exits the body through a short tube known as the urethra.

Normally, when the bladder is about half full, nerve signals alert your brain that it’s time to visit the bathroom. If you have OAB, muscles in your bladder contract involuntarily, resulting in that urgent “gotta go” feeling. Sometimes, people leak urine before they make it to the bathroom; this is known as urge incontinence. In other cases, a physical action such as coughing or laughing can trigger leakage; this is called stress incontinence.

What to Ask Your Doctor
If you suspect you have OAB, it’s really important to discuss it with your doctor. Use the following questions to gain a better understanding of your situation:
• What’s the most likely cause of my symptoms? Will they go away on their own or keep coming back?
• Is there anything I can do to help improve the condition, such as making dietary changes or losing weight?
• Do you recommend any tests? Should I see a specialist?
• What treatments are available?

Here’s what to expect during your visit: Your doctor will take your medical history, perform a physical exam with a focus on the abdominal region and order a urine test. You may be referred to a urologist—a doctor who specializes in urinary disorders—for more extensive testing.

Common Causes of Overactive Bladder
Several factors can contribute to overactive bladder. Some are fairly simple for a doctor to pinpoint. They include:
• Being overweight
• Childbirth
• Consuming large amounts of fluids, especially caffeine or alcohol
• Hysterectomy
• Taking medications that increase urine production (ask your doctor if any medications you are taking could cause this as a side effect)

Other causes may require testing for diagnosis accuracy.
They include:
• Bladder stones
• Diabetes
• Enlarged prostate
• Kidney disease
• Tumors

OAB Treatments
A variety of treatments are available to ease symptoms and reduce frequency or severity of those “gotta go” moments. They include:
• Eating a fiber-rich diet to prevent constipation and the straining that can weaken your pelvic muscles
• Doing exercises to strengthen the pelvic-floor muscles that help hold urine even when the bladder involuntarily contracts
• Losing weight
• Reducing fluid consumption
• Retraining the bladder by scheduling bathroom visits throughout the day

Your doctor might also suggest certain medications—and in some cases, surgery—to enhance your bladder’s capacity and/or reduce pressure within the bladder.
Diabetes Mellitis (Type II) Obesity Renal Failure Hysterectomy Childbirth Constipation Cough Muscle Cramps Overactive Bladder Stress Incontinence Prostate Diabetes Lose Weight Prostate Enlargement

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