Have you found yourself walking slower down the adult diaper aisle, trying to quickly examine the packaging for different types of pads or diapers to find the best product before being seen by a close friend or neighbor? Experiences with over active bladder or (OAB) can often be very embarrassing, frustrating and they can interfere with your activities of daily living and your sleep.
What is overactive bladder? It’s a condition characterized by a sudden uncontrollable need to urinate. There is often increased frequency either during the day or at night and it can be accompanied by leaking. There is not a clear reason why this happens which is why so many people will accept this as a part of the aging process. There are many different factors that lead to an overactive bladder, and as healthcare providers, we want you to know there are options available for symptom management.
If you find yourself experiencing symptoms such as an increase in the amount of times you are urinating during the day or at night, an increased sense of urgency with urination, or unexplained leaking with or without urgency, it may be time to make an appointment with an urologist to discuss your options.
When you visit the urologist it may be recommended you undergo an in-office test called Urodynamic testing. This allows your healthcare provider to know more about why you may be experiencing symptoms of an overactive bladder and it helps guide specific treatment options.
Here are some options you may wish to consider with your provider:
Behavioral therapy. There are different types of behavioral therapy available to help strengthen pelvis floor muscles. One such treatment known as biofeedback is administered in the Urology office and includes several weeks of training with exercises to help you gain control over your bladder to reduce frequency of urinating and frequency of leaking. Kegels are another type of therapy that can be done at home to help strengthen pelvis muscles.
Lifestyle and behavioral changes. Lifestyle changes include changes to diet including becoming educated about and implementing an IC or interstitial cystitis diet. In addition changes to fluid intake and types of fluids consumed can make an appreciable difference. Finally diuretics or fluid pills and the time of day in which they are taken can affect urination.
Anti-muscarinic medications. This class of medications help to reduce involuntary spasms that take place in the bladder during its storage phase which means they help reduce frequency of urination. The medications are very effective for many patients however, they are not without side effects. Ask your doctor which medication, if any, may be right for you.
Overactive bladder is an issue affecting many people as they age and the symptoms can often be life altering. If you are experiencing sudden frequent or uncontrollable urination it may be time to see a urologist and talk about the many options available to manage and reduce symptoms.
Stefanie McGowan-Poling, NP, is a urology nurse practitioner at SVMC Urology in Bennington.