Overactive Bladder TreatmentOveractive bladder treatment: Overactive bladder is term used for a group of urinary symptoms. Overactive bladder can have a significant effect on the quality of your life provoking an intense “gotta’ go” feeling when you least want or need it. Overactive bladder has the following symptoms: Urgency: The most common symptom of overactive bladder is the urge to urinate. This urge is often unexpected and uncontrollable. Frequency: Depending on the amount you drink and other lifestyle factors, some people’s frequency to urinate is considered manageable and healthy. Most people pass urine 6-8 times per day without any concern. With overactive bladder however, the frequency to urinate is another symptom of the condition that can be excessive and accompanied by this intense urge. You may also pass or feel the need to pass urine several times during a short interval. Urge incontinence: Your urge to urinate in that moment can be so strong that it causes you to leak urine (also known as urge incontinence). This adds to one’s feelings of embarrassment and humiliation. Others may get to the toilet on time and remain continent, but the fear of having an accident can make the urge feel increasingly more desperate. Nocturia: Overactive bladder can affect you during the daytime and through the night. Also known as nocturia, the need to pass urine through the night can be exhausting, disrupting your normal restful sleep patterns. Overactive bladder affects about 12 % of the adult population. It can affect people of all ages, including young children and the elderly. If you are seeking overactive bladder treatment, first consult with your GP to identify any if there are any underlying health problems that are connected to your overactive bladder symptoms. Your GP may refer you to a consultant for further tests. If no underlying health problems have been identified or if you have not benefitted from any prescribed overactive bladder treatment from your medical practitioner, hypnotherapy can help treat your (neurogenic) overactive bladder symptoms. It can also help you cope with the stress and anxiety associated with your symptoms alongside other medically prescribed treatments.
Overactive bladder treatment: bladder functioningThe kidneys produce urine that drains into your bladder. With normal bladder functioning, the bladder muscle (detrusor) is relaxed as urine progressively fills the bladder. The gradual stretching of the bladder triggers the urge to want to pass urine when the bladder is about half full. This moderate sensation can be controlled for most people for a reasonable period of time until it is convenient to use a toilet. When you want to urinate, nerve signals instruct the bladder muscle to contract and push urine out of the bladder and into the urethra. These nerve signals are coordinated with the relaxation of the pelvic floor muscles and urethral sphincter muscles as urine passes out of the body. With overactive bladder, the nerve signals between the bladder and the brain become “faulty”. Sensations of bladder fullness may be triggered prematurely. The bladder muscle becomes overactive and involuntarily squeezes on the bladder too early. This creates the sudden, persistent and uncontrollable urge to urinate even when the bladder isn’t full. The volume of urine passed each time by a normal adult can vary between 250-400 ml. Most people can hold on between 3-4 hours between visits to the toilet. With overactive bladder the volume of urine passed each time may be between 100-200 ml. Your urination frequency may be hourly.
Overactive bladder treatment: what causes overactive bladder?There are many medical conditions that may contribute to an overactive bladder which should be discussed with your GP. These include:
- Urinary tract infections.
- Menopausal hormonal changes in women.
- Neurological conditions like multiple sclerosis, stroke, Parkinson’s disease and following spinal cord injuries.
- Specific bladder abnormalities like bladder stones and tumours.
- Other factors that can affect bladder flow and incomplete bladder emptying (voiding) including enlarged prostate, constipation, weakened pelvic floor muscles from childbirth and previous incontinence surgery.
- Reduced cognitive function affecting bladder control e.g. related to aging.
- Taking medication that has a diuretic effect.
- Drinking too many fluids, particularly those that may have a diuretic effect e.g. caffeinated or alcohol drinks.
- Not drinking enough fluids. This might seem sensible to lower your frequency, but a lack of fluids can cause your urine to become too concentrated and irritate the bladder.
- Having an excessive amount of acidic food and drinks. These can be considered bladder irritants e.g. fruit juice, tomato-based products, spicy food etc.
- Suffering with constipation. The pelvic floor can be damaged when straining during bowel movements. Eating a high-fibre diet, drinking enough fluid and being active and help reduce constipation.
- Having limited mobility. Restricted mobility can make it difficult to get to a toilet and increase your bladder urgency. Being physically active can increase bladder control.
- Smoking. Smokers are more likely to have bladder control problems with a chronic cough. Quitting smoking can reduce these symptoms.
- Urinating more times than is necessary. It can seem logical to go to the toilet “just in case”, particularly if you already fear being able to use a toilet for a while, but it can build a habit of urinating more than times than is necessary. Frequent urination does not prevent overactive bladder; it can make the symptoms worse in the long term as you get used to holding less urine and more sensitive to milder stretches of the bladder. Bladder retraining can help you prolong your urination urge intervals.
- Being overweight. Obesity can be a contributing factor for overactive bladder in females. Excess body weight can increase abdominal and bladder pressure. Losing weight can help this possible cause.
- You have weak pelvic floor muscles. This can be one of many causes of stress urinary incontinence and urge incontinence. Kegel exercises can strengthen your pelvic floor muscles (tensing the muscle that would stop urination midstream). General exercises (performed under supervision) that develop your core muscles, hips and leg muscles can also help strengthen your pelvic floor e.g. pelvic tilts, knee-ball squeezes, squats, bridges, bird-dogs, split table tops etc.