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Overactive Bladder: Characteristics, Causes & Treatment

Overactive Bladder: Characteristics, Causes & Treatment

Overactive Bladder

Having the urgency to urinate or an inability to control how often you need to go could mean that you have an overactive bladder. Having an overactive bladder is not normal, regardless of age, sex or conditional health. It is not a disease, however. Rather, it is a health condition defined by a group of urinary symptoms that are related to control and frequency (x).

Overactive Bladder Characteristics

Since having an overactive bladder usually involves a combination of symptoms, it may differ slightly from person to person. There is general overlap with this condition, most commonly including frequent urination and urgency (x). Other symptoms and characteristics often include:

  • Excessive Need to Urinate: Many health professionals have come to the conclusion that having to urinate more than eight times a day is considered frequent urination. However, the frequency can vary.
  • Bladder Leakage: Whether it is a few drops or a large gush of urine, bladder leaks after the sudden urge to go is common. This is often referred to as urgency incontinence.
  • Inability to Hold Urine: Similar to bladder leakage, once you have the urge to go to the bathroom, you are unable to hold it for any period of time and need to rush to the bathroom before leakage occurs.
  • Bladder Doesn’t Feel Empty After Urination: Even after you go to the bathroom, you may feel like you did not fully empty your bladder. This feeling can cause more frequent trips to the bathroom to ensure that you do not experience incontinence.
  • Waking Up to Urinate: Having to wake up in the middle of the night isn’t uncommon, but if you have to wake up multiple times to go to the bathroom, it is likely a sign of overactive bladder. This is sometimes referred to as nocturia.

Any number or combination of these symptoms may mean that you are experiencing an overactive bladder. Symptom combinations may vary due to anatomy-related factors among men and women, but it is possible to suffer from any of the symptoms listed despite your gender. Either way, having an overactive bladder can get in the way of daily life and become a burden if it persists (x).

Causes of Overactive Bladder

The causes of an overactive bladder can vary greatly from person to person (x). It is recommended that you discuss the symptoms with a trusted health professional and get a diagnosis of the underlying condition causing them. The most common causes include:

  • Nerve damage
  • Catheter use
  • Childbirth
  • Structural problems with bladder
  • Excessive intake of fluids
  • Diabetes
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis
  • Stroke
  • Overconsumption of alcohol
  • Aging and menopause (low estrogen levels)
  • Bladder stones or tumors
  • Enlarged prostate
  • Weakened and/or stretched bladder muscles
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Pregnancy

There are many different factors that can cause overactive bladder. The way our bodily functions react and respond to one another can differ from person to person. Therefore, a condition like overactive bladder usually requires specific and individualized treatment (x, x).

Overactive Bladder Symptoms

Overactive Bladder Remedies and Supplements

Discovering the underlying cause of your overactive bladder will assist you in finding the proper treatment and lifestyle changes to pursue. There are a number of home remedies and supplements that can aid in easing or even eliminating symptoms related to an overactive bladder. Of course, it is important to consider other medications in your regimen. It is best that you consult your doctor before implementing dietary supplements in order to avoid adverse reactions and side effects.

Common home remedies for frequent urination include:

Corn Silk Extract

Traditionally used to treat urinary tract infections, bladder inflammation, and prostate inflammation. Corn silk extract may aid in general urinary tract health, therefore improving bladder control and easing an overactive bladder (x).

Pumpkin Seed Extract

Pumpkin seeds are naturally high in antioxidants and magnesium — both beneficial to lowering inflammation and improving general health. Some studies suggest that pumpkin seeds can aid in easing symptoms related to an overactive bladder (x).

Regulating Fluid Consumption

You should discuss this in great detail with your doctor before implementing to avoid dehydration. However, knowing how much fluid you consume can help you to stay properly hydrated without having to go to the bathroom as often or as frequently.

Avoid Caffeine and Alcohol

In association with fluid regulation, it is recommended that you avoid caffeine and alcohol if you suffer from an overactive bladder. They both worsen symptoms when consumed in excess (x).

See Also
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Practice Holding Your Urine

This may seem kind of intimidating if you want to avoid bladder leakage, but this can strengthen muscles in your pelvic floor. To start, some people will go to the bathroom and stop their urine mid-flow in order to gain control and build strength in a safe environment.

Kegels

As with holding your urine, kegel exercises will strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, better enabling you to hold your urine and control possible leakage. As with any form of exercise, it is best to do kegel exercises regularly in order to maintain strength.

These are just a few options when working on getting rid of an overactive bladder. Also consider asking your doctor about any current medication that you may be taking. Sometimes an overactive bladder is a side effect of prescription medications. Since there are many causes of an overactive bladder, it is important to also treat any underlying medical conditions. By doing so, you will also be treating your overactive bladder.

The Bottom Line

Having an overactive bladder can be embarrassing and interrupt your daily life. Knowing what to do and how to prevent it can help you get things back on track. An overactive bladder does not have to become a “normal” part of your life. There are ways to improve and get rid of symptoms related to the condition, and it is easier to treat once the cause has been properly diagnosed. Of course, it is important to work closely with a trusted healthcare professional when treating this condition.

By: Meghan Carney

 
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