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How to manage your overactive bladder

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Managing an overactive bladder can be annoying at the best of times and paralyzing at the worst of times. It can be frustrating to need to use the restroom constantly and it can make you feel anxious to go out in public, or even to friends’ homes.
 
About 33 million Americans are affected by an overactive bladder. An overactive bladder isn’t a disease nor is it a normal part of growing older. Rather, it's caused from a variety of different medical conditions that affect the muscles of your bladder.
 
If you’ve been dealing with symptoms of overactive bladder, such as sudden urges to urinate, increased urination during the day or at night and/or involuntary leaking of urine due to an intense urge to urinate, your first step should be to speak with your primary care provider. It’s important to mention to your provider because treatments are available for the symptoms of overactive bladder.1
 
Here are some things your care provider may recommend to help manage your overactive bladder.

Change your diet

For some people, the foods that you eat can have a direct impact on your bladder function. Carbonated drinks, chocolate, alcohol, spicy food, acidic foods and drinks like coffee and citrus, and tomato-based products can all trigger an overactive bladder.
 
Keeping a food journal can help you narrow down which foods trigger your overactive bladder. Ultimately, you may not need to cut out trigger foods completely, but rather limit your intake.

Adjusting your fluid intake

The amount of fluids you consume has a direct impact on your need to urinate. Your primary care physician may work with you to adjust your fluid intake to decrease or reduce the chance of bladder leaks.
 
You may also be able to change the intervals at which you’re drinking fluids. Consuming a lot all at once can lead to an urge to urinate. Spacing out your fluids can help you drink your regular amount without overfilling your bladder.
 
It’s important that you drink the right amount of fluids. Drinking too little and becoming dehydrated can also irritate your bladder leading to an urge to urinate and is never recommended.

Retraining your bladder

Learning to take back control of your bladder takes time, but it’s entirely possible. Your bladder is like any other muscle in your body and can be strengthened with exercise.
 
When retraining your bladder, you’ll begin by scheduling a time to urinate instead of going every time you feel an urge. You’ll slowly begin delaying the amount of time you take before you urinate as you strengthen your muscles. Bladder retraining is often accomplished alongside pelvic floor muscle exercise, commonly known as Kegel exercises.

Quit smoking

If you’re a regular tobacco user, cutting out cigarettes and/or cigars can help you manage your overactive bladder. Smoke can irritate your bladder, but it can also trigger a coughing fit which can lead to leaks.

Lose weight

Excess weight can put a strain on your body and put additional pressure on your bladder, which can cause a leak. Regular, low-impact activities such as walking, biking, and swimming could also help your bladder control.

Medication

Medications are available to help treat the symptoms of an overactive bladder. Work with your primary care physician to find out if any medications will work for you.

We can help

The first step toward successful treatment of an overactive bladder is to speak with your primary care physician. If you need help, our providers at Goshen Physicians Urology are available. We can help you build a treatment plan that’s right for you and your overactive bladder — call us at (574) 533-8420 to learn more.
 
1 Lightner DJ, Gomelsky A, Souter L et al: Diagnosis and treatment of overactive bladder (non-neurogenic) in adults: AUA/SUFU Guideline amendment 2019. J Urol 2019; 202:558.

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