Taming Your Overactive Bladder
People have preconceptions about getting older. It’s assumed you’ll lose strength. Your skin will become much less pliable. You’ll become less sharp mentally.
And you’ll have to urinate more often.
While the first three issues are mostly true, the fourth is not a condition of aging. Having to urinate more than eight times in a day could be a sign of an overactive bladder (OAB). OAB can affect different people in different ways: some people have a sudden urge to urinate; others urinate frequently during the day or night; others have some urine leakage.
Because some people feel embarrassed by their OAB, they often don’t tell their doctor about their symptoms. They just assume it’s a “part of getting older,” but this isn’t true, and by not sharing this information with your doctor you’re missing out on the many available treatment options.
At UT Urology, we are experts in the diagnosis and treatment of OAB and urinary incontinence. Our Overactive Bladder Clinic is a specialized clinic dedicated to the problem.
What causes overactive bladder?
When in normal function, your bladder should store at least 10 ounces of urine before it signals the brain that you need to urinate. This process begins with that signal and then the brain tells the bladder to squeeze out the urine. At this time, the pelvic muscles and sphincter muscle, whose job it is to keep the urine in the bladder, will relax. When you have OAB, the message is sent that your bladder is full, even if it isn’t. This leads to frequent urination and possible urine leakage.
While OAB can be a condition on its own, it can also be a sign of various diseases of the urinary tract and nervous system. That’s why you need to share your symptoms with your doctor. If he or she seems nonplussed by your situation, it may be a good idea to seek out specialists such as the team at UT Urology.
Know that you are not alone. As many as 30 million Americans have symptoms of OAB. The condition affects both men and women.
Diagnosing overactive bladders
When evaluating your condition, we begin with questions such as how frequently you urinate and if or how often you have leakage. We’ll ask about medications, previous surgeries, and your consumption habits. We’ll perform a physical exam, as well. Our diagnosis doesn’t usually require any invasive testing.
We’ll have you keep a bladder diary. This will chart your daily input of things such as coffee along with your urine output.
We’ll conduct a simple in-office urine test. Once we look at this we may opt to send it to the lab for additional testing.
If it seems relevant, we may perform a painless ultrasound of your bladder to see how well you’re emptying it.
In most cases our first choice in treatment of OAB is behavior change. This may be as simple as reducing certain foods and beverages that may be irritating your bladder. It may involve reducing total fluid intake, after reviewing your bladder diary. We may put you on a timed voiding schedule, as this helps train your body to expand the time interval between urination. It may even involve Kegel exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, the muscles that are responsible for urination control.
Medications, particular when prescribed in combination with behavioral changes, can be incorporated. These medications help to relax the bladder and reduce the signals to the brain telling you to urinate before your bladder is actually full.
If you’re losing sleep and feeling as if you’re missing out on social activities due to having to urinate too frequently, give us a call at UT Urology, 423-778-8765. We can help.
Image courtesy of marin at FreeDigitalPhotos.net