Most people believe that overactive bladder (OAB) symptoms — leaks, strong sudden urges to go, and going too often — always happen as we age. As a result, many don’t mention their symptoms to a doctor and just continue dealing with them. The truth is that while OAB does become more common as people get older, it can affect anyone at any age.
But you don’t have to just continue dealing with OAB. After all, it is a treatable medical condition.
Talking to your doctor is the first step. Your doctor can tell you about treatment options including prescription medicines, which can help.
The class of prescription medicines used for treating overactive bladder (OAB) is called antimuscarinics. These may effectively treat the likely cause of OAB symptoms. These medicines are thought to work by helping to calm the bladder muscle and reduce spasms.
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In addition to prescription medicines, everyday choices and certain exercises can help you manage your overactive bladder (OAB) symptoms. In fact, combining all 3 may increase the chances of treating your symptoms effectively.
Good fluid intake involves not drinking too much and not drinking too little. Most people should drink four to six 8-oz cups of fluid a day. At least half of that should be water.
Drinking adequate fluids can help prevent conditions such as constipation, which can impact your bladder symptoms. Make sure you talk to your doctor before making significant changes to your food and drink habits.
Your pelvic floor is a series of muscles in the base of your pelvis that help hold the urine in the bladder. But they can weaken with age or childbirth. Certain exercises can help make these stronger.
To locate your PFMs, think about the muscles used to stop the flow of urine. Then work on squeezing and holding them for a few seconds followed by relaxing them for an equal amount of time. You can use this exercise to help delay going to the bathroom when you get a strong sudden urge to go.
This exercise may also prove helpful for improving stress incontinence symptoms.
Some foods can irritate your bladder more than others. These include: caffeine, citrus fruits and juices, artificial sweeteners, tomato-based foods, sodas, alcohol, and spicy foods.
While everyone responds to foods and drinks differently, it’s probably a good idea to have these in moderation if you find that they irritate your bladder.
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Your doctor can diagnose and help determine the most appropriate treatment option, and whether a prescription medicine is right for you. You can speak with your primary care physician, an ob-gyn, a urologist, or a nurse practitioner about your bladder problems.
Depending on your symptoms, he or she can suggest a treatment plan that may include prescription medication, lifestyle changes, or a combination of both.
You can also help your doctor understand your symptoms. Give him or her as much information as possible about what you may be going through. The OAB Symptom Quiz is a useful tool that can help you do exactly that.
Based on your conversation and your OAB Symptom Quiz results, your doctor may recommend one or more tests, like checking your urine sample. These tests can help either verify that you have overactive bladder (OAB) or identify any other condition that may be causing your symptoms.
So don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor about your symptoms and their impact on your life. Your conversation may help you learn how to manage your symptoms more effectively.