Overactive bladder is a bladder disorder that causes you to have an abnormal urge to urinate, the urge to urinate often, and nocturia (frequently urinating during the night). You may also experience an involuntary loss of bladder control, also known as urinary incontinence. Older people usually get overactive bladder, although it can occur at any age. Between 10 and 20 percent of men and women aged 40 or older have an overactive bladder. Overactive bladder occurs later in life for men that it does for women.
The most important muscle in your bladder is called the detrusor muscle. When your bladder fills with urine it stretches to hold the urine. When your bladder reaches 300 cc of fluid, the stretch happening in the wall of your bladder can trigger a nerve response to initiate urination. This reaction loosens your sphincter in the neck of your bladder (which connects your bladder to your urethra). Your detrusor muscle then contracts so urination can happen. You will be able to override this response to prevent yourself from urinating, but it is a challenge. The nerves and muscles in your bladder can start to dysfunction and contract inappropriately. Your detrusor muscle may start contractive even if there is no urine in your bladder. This is called detrusor overactivity. Overactive bladder is a benign condition. But it impacts your quality of life. You may feel fear and embarrassment about how urgently and frequently you have to urinate. Fear of incontinence in public leads to feelings of social isolation, depression, and guilt. Your family members will likely have to assist you with your toileting, cleaning, and hygiene.
Other common conditions that can cause detrusor overactivity (which eventually leads to the overactive bladder) are:
- Bladder Stones
- Bladder Tumors
- Kidney Stones
- Urinary Tract Infections
- Sudden Urge to Urinate
- Urinary Frequency (More than eight times in 24 hours)
- Urinary Incontinence
- Urinary Urgency
Risk factors for overactive bladder include:
- Diabetic Neuropathy
- Multiple Pregnancies
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Previous Pelvic Surgery
- Previous Stroke
- Prostate Surgery
- Spinal Cord Injury
Diagnosis & Treatment
Your overactive bladder diagnosis begins with your history and the symptoms you tell your doctor. Your doctor will go through your medical history and examine you physically, as well as review the medications and supplements you re taking. If you are a woman, he or she will perform a pelvic exam. If you are a man, they will perform a prostate exam. Blood work and analysis of your urine can complement your history and physical exam. Your doctor may also perform a PVR or post-void residual. This procedure measures how much urine remains in your bladder after urination.
If you think you have any symptoms of overactive bladder, you should see your primary-care physician or a urologist and have them evaluate you. Because other conditions can cause overactive bladder symptoms, any concerns need to be assessed and treated. Having an overactive bladder is common and treatable. Making changes in your behavior and lifestyle are usually recommended before medicine or surgery.
Your Diet Matters
Getting regular exercise can help you maintain regularity in your bowels. Eating bran cereal, beans, whole wheat, and fresh fruit can help your regularity. Incorporating prunes into your daily menu can help increase your regularity. Try eating prunes in your oatmeal, or, using a blender, making a cocktail of applesauce, unprocessed wheat bran, flax seeds, and prune juice. In addition to Kegel exercises and exercises to keep you regular, you should exercise to lose weight to cut down on your overactive bladder symptoms. People who are overweight have a greater risk of developing stress incontinence.
Different foods and drinks are known to make your overactive bladder symptoms worse. Try eliminating or better yet avoiding the following foods and drinks:
- Alcoholic Beverages
- Citrus Fruits and Juices: Orange juice, tangerine juice, lemonade, grapefruit juice, and fruits.
- Coffee: Caffeinated and decaffeinated
- Spicy Food: Hot peppers, curry, etc.
- Tea: Caffeinated and decaffeinated
- Tomatoes/Tomato Products
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