As many as one in four adult women experience episodes of urine leaking involuntarily, according to the National Association for Continence. And about 17% of women and 16% of men have continuing problems with overactive bladder (OAB).
If you have OAB, you know how difficult and embarrassing it can be to manage your overactive bladder at work. How can you keep things dry and professional? Many experts will advise you to try behavioral therapy, and if that fails, seek medical or surgical treatment. All that can take time. Here are some tips to help you manage OAB at the office, at the shop, and on the road.
1. Don’t dehydrate yourself at work.
You may think you should restrict beverages so you’ll urinate less, but fluid restriction can be counterproductive.
Cutting back on your fluid consumption results in a dark colored urine which is highly concentrated; this actually acts as a bladder irritant.
2. Keep on schedule.
Scheduled fluid intake and urination are the keys to managing OAB. If you know you’ll have a big presentation at noon, stop drinking fluids at about 11 a.m., and then take a bathroom break right before your big appearance.
3. Know where the restrooms are located.
Familiarize yourself with all the restrooms on your floor, especially when you’re on a visit to a different office or at a conference. This is often called “toilet mapping” and can increase your security when you know exactly where the restrooms are.
4. Give yourself an exit.
The power spot at most work meeting is at the front of the room. But if you have an overactive bladder, sit in the back of the room and at the end of the aisle for presentations.
5. Know your triggers.
Stay away from obvious OAB triggers in work situations — coffee and anything else with caffeine, acidic drinks like orange juice, chocolate, and spicy foods.
6. Plan your travels.
Choose airline seats ahead of time if at all possible so that you can have an aisle seat near the restroom.
7. Make friends when traveling.
Solicit help from flight attendants when traveling. For example, explain your situation, and ask if they can let you know ahead of time when the seat belt light is about to come on so you can go to the bathroom first.
8. Involve your boss.
Most supervisors will be reasonable about scheduling regular bathroom breaks.
I can assure that doctors who treat patients with OAB will write letters confirming the condition so that the boss doesn’t think it’s just an excuse to get another break.
9. Kegel-keep squeezing
The pelvic floor contractions called Kegels are a great way to keep your bladder muscles strong in general, and you can do them without people noticing.
Even if you haven’t been doing Kegels regularly, if the urge to urinate hits, a quick series of pelvic floor contractions can sometimes abate that sensation until you can get to the bathroom.
See my article on Kegels at http://www.neilbaum.com/kegel-exercises-for-men.html
10. Don’t fear the pad.
If you know you’re going to be having a horribly hectic day, wear a pad or other protective undergarment that day. For men, there are “condom catheter” devices, that can collect urine until you can change. Condom catheters allows a little more control so that in the worst-case situation, you’re not going to have a visible accident.
11. Get help!
You don’t have to live with overactive bladder, at work or at home. People wait an average of seven years before seeking professional help for continence issues, but there’s no need to suffer in silence.
Bottom Line: The overactive bladder can be tamed. Start with your family physician. Your doctor may refer you to a urologist or urogynecologist, who can discuss your options for medication, behavioral therapies, or surgery.
This article was excerpted from 11 Ways to Manage OAB at Work
By Gina Shaw