Overactive Bladder Basics

Bladder Health, Digestive Health, Multiple Sclerosis, Overactive Bladder/Incontinence
on November 24, 2011

If you have an overactive bladder or even if you've just seen the commercial for overactive bladder medication, you know how urgent this health problem can be. Having an overactive bladder is a bit more than an inconvenience; it's an embarrassing and sometimes limiting health problem. Get to know the overactive bladder basics and stay in control of your well-being.

Causal or contributing factors. There are a variety of things that may cause or contribute to overactive bladder in some people. According to the Mayo Clinic, an overactive bladder can stem from a neurological disorder such as multiple sclerosis, stroke or Parkinson's. Or it may be linked to large urine production from lots of fluids to diabetes or kidney problems, infection of the urinary tract, bladder abnormalities, too much caffeine or alcohol, medication, or obstructions to the outflow such as an enlarged prostate and constipation. In some cases, an exact cause of overactive bladder isn't obvious, even though the problem sure is.

Symptoms of overactive bladder. The normal function of the bladder involves a signal from your brain telling you that your bladder is full and it's time to go to the bathroom. Unfortunately, it doesn't always happen that way. With overactive bladder, the signals may get mixed up, the muscles of the bladder contract involuntarily, and the urge to urinate is frequent or even constant — whether or not the bladder is actually full.

Treatment approaches. Overactive bladder is not uncommon. There are many options for people dealing with this health concern. Partner with your doctor for the best plan of action in managing the symptoms of overactive bladder. Some recommendations include reducing the amount of fluid you drink each day, bladder training to gradually build up and increase the amount of time between urination, double voiding by urinating twice within a few minutes, Kegel exercises to build up the pelvic floor's strength and scheduling trips to the restroom rather than waiting for the urge. If necessary, a catheter can assist the bladder in completely voiding. Meanwhile, using absorbent pads is a good idea for some, as they help eliminate any embarrassment and provide confidence.

Other treatment options. Medications are available by prescription to relax the bladder and help allay the symptoms. They are usually used in combination with other treatment approaches. OnabotulinumtoxinA can be injected into the tissues to paralyze the muscles, but according to the Mayo Clinic, it's used in severe cases only, as it's not been officially approved for this purpose. Sacral nerve stimulation involves a procedure in which a wire is placed near the tailbone in order to deliver electric impulses in order to control the bladder's contractions and decrease symptoms. In extreme cases, surgery may be recommended in order to increase the volume of the bladder or remove it entirely as a last resort.