When You Gotta Go-Putting a Brake On The Overactive Bladder

You’ve seen the ads on T.V. and if you have an overactive bladder you can relate to those women who an intense urge to go to the restroom immediately and if you aren’t able to make it in time you will pee on yourself. This is a great source of embarrassment and can even make women social reclusive.
Urge incontinence occurs when an overactive bladder spasms or contracts at the wrong times. You may leak urine when you sleep or feel the need to pee after drinking a little water, even though you know your bladder isn’t full. This sensation can be a result of nerve damage or abnormal signals from the nerves to the brain. Medical conditions and certain medications — such as diuretics – can aggravate it.
Whatever the source, you don’t have to feel that your OAB symptoms are beyond your control or that they are controlling your life. In fact, you may be able to take control over them just by making some changes in your everyday behavior. Try these practical tips to get started.
Start by eliminating bladder irritants such as caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol. All of these irritate the bladder. Caffeine also acts as a diuretic, meaning it causes you to urinate more. Cutting out the big three can be tough. Try these strategies:
Think about how much water you drink. This can be difficult in New Orleans where we lose so much water through sweating and we are thirsty and have to replenish the excess water loss. Drink plain water when you’re thirsty, from four to eight 8-ounce glasses a day. You’ll know you’re drinking enough if your urine is light yellow or almost colorless. Sip water throughout the day, instead of gulping down a lot at one time. If you take a diuretic, like Lasix or hydrochlorothiazide, try taking the diuretic in the morning. That way you should be able to empty your bladder by bedtime.

In addition to cutting down or eliminating alcohol and caffeine drinks, limiting other foods or beverages may help OAB. Try cutting back on:
Acidic foods and beverages, such as tomatoes, pineapple, and citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruit, lemons, and limes
Salty foods, which can make you thirstier and make you drink more liquids
Spicy foods, such as chilies, which can irritate the bladder
Carbonated beverages, such as sodas or seltzer

It’s possible to retrain your bladder to hold more urine for longer periods of time. Better muscle control can also help. Ask your doctor for a specific plan and stick with it — it can take up to three months to see results. These strategies may be part of your plan:
Exercises that combat the overactive bladder. Kegels strengthen the pelvic floor muscles that hold up the bladder. They also help reconnect nerve impulse communication between the bladder and the brain. To do them, lie on your bed or the floor and squeeze the pelvic muscles as if you were trying to prevent passing gas from your rectum. Hold the contraction for a count of three; then relax for a count of three. Do Kegels three times a day for five minutes at a time.

Tension, diet, and being overweight can all contribute to urinary incontinence. The good news is that you can do something about all three:
Eat more vegetables and fiber. Fiber helps you avoid constipation, which may help reduce pressure on your bladder.
Reduce tension. Tense situations can make you to feel as if you need to pee Deep breathing exercises are one of the tools that can ease tension.
Exercise. If you’re overweight, losing weight will keep extra pounds from adding to the pressure on your bladder. Exercise may aggravate stress incontinence, though.
When you need to go, then go. Holding back too much can create other problems. For example, teachers and nurses may have bladder problems because they wait too long between bathroom breaks.

Bottom Line: Though urge incontinence is uncomfortable, it’s also very treatable. Changes in your lifestyle and habits can play a part in treating it.

This blog has been modified from: Urge Incontinence: Tips for Daily Life, By Louise Chang, MD

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