Find OAB Relief with These 5 Easy Tips
February 2, 2020
Overactive bladder (OAB) is a common medical condition affecting as many as 30% of men and 40% of women in the United States. It is estimated that up to 50% of women and 30% of men will experience bladder control problems and symptoms of OAB during their lifetime.
OAB is characterized by a sudden, uncomfortable need to urinate with or without urine leakage, usually with daytime and nighttime frequency. OAB occurs when the smooth muscles of the detrusor muscle of the bladder squeeze or contract more often than normal and at inappropriate times. Instead of staying at rest as urine fills the bladder, the detrusor contracts while the bladder is filling with urine.
Oftentimes, medications are most helpful in controlling symptoms of OAB. However, there are other treatment options that can help improve or even eliminate OAB, many of which are available right here at the Austin Urology Institute.
While AUI has all the necessary OAB diagnosis and treatment methods to get you back to living your life, there are still several things you can do to make living with OAB easier.
1. Dump the stress
Circumstantial evidence suggests that individuals with depression, anxiety, and attention deficit disorder may experience symptoms of OAB more often than the general population. Some investigators suggest that depression, anxiety, and stress are associated with disturbances in brain circuits that use specific chemical messengers between nerves (neurotransmitters) that “talk” to the bladder. Using daily techniques to help eliminate or reduce stress can help, like meditation, exercise, therapy, journaling, breath exercises, and other simple relaxation techniques. As a result, it can greatly reduce symptoms of OAB.
2. Lose the weight
It’s simple — extra weight creates pressure and pushes on the bladder. Weight loss can greatly reduce OAB symptoms. A healthy diet and 30-45 minutes of exercise a day consistently drops the extra weight and can help reduce or even eliminate OAB. Losing weight takes time, effort and consistency, and it’s important to remember that dietary changes are a lifestyle change. Avoid “diets” that promote quick weight loss or eating habits that can’t be sustained long-term. The Mediterranean Diet has proven anti-inflammatory and weight loss benefits and is not terribly restrictive. Couple that with light exercise daily and you’ll watch the pounds come off and bladder symptoms improve.
3. Kick the Dietary Irritants
Dietary irritants such as caffeine, spicy foods, alcohol, nicotine, acidic foods, alcohol, artificial sweeteners and energy drinks all contribute to irritating the bladder. What goes in must come out. If it’s being consumed, it will also be processed and emptied through the bladder. Be picky about what’s in your diet and avoid any foods and drinks that may cause additional bladder irritation. Also, limiting fluid intake approximately two to three hours before bedtime will help keep you in bed versus in the bathroom throughout the night.
4. Bladder Exercises
The bladder is a muscle! Start with simple Kegel exercises consistently throughout the day to strengthen the bladder muscle. You can do them discreetly. Kegel exercises are beneficial in appeasing urge incontinence and can be done alone or in combination with medications. Performing Kegels does not require equipment or any special instruction. To do a Kegel, squeeze the muscles you normally use to stop the flow of urine. Hold the contraction for five seconds, and then relax for five seconds. Gradually increase to 10-second contractions with 10 seconds of rest in between. Ideally, do three sets of ten contractions (at 10 seconds per contraction) daily. Additionally, there are specialized physical therapists that use biofeedback that can teach you in-depth methods of exercising these muscles that once learned, you can perform at home routinely.
5. Set an Alarm
Timed voiding is exactly as it sounds — setting time aside every two to three hours during the day to make a trip to the bathroom and urinating versus waiting until the urge arises. This helps to train your bladder and to control the urge that may occur frequently. Set an alarm to remind yourself to go to the bathroom throughout the day even if there is no urge.
There are OAB treatment options that can be used in combination with medication or as to help you live a better life with overactive bladder. If you are tired of altering your life for your bladder condition, schedule an appointment with a provider at the Austin Urology Institute to discuss more permanent solutions.