Drink More, Not Less for Overactive Bladder
Overactive bladder is the experience of frequent, strong urges to urinate that you cannot control. You may feel the urge to urinate even when the bladder is not full.
There may be more than one cause of overactive bladder, and although the likelihood of experiencing it increases as you age, it is not a normal part of aging. Overactive bladder is common among both men and women, with approximately 33 million Americans diagnosed.
Treatment for overactive bladder can depend on the underlying cause of the condition, but a first line of treatment often includes behavioral changes. As far as drinking fluids, it is recommended that people with overactive bladder drink more, not less, to improve their symptoms.
Normal Bladder Function
In normal urination, nerves in the bladder signal to the brain when the bladder is full and needs to be emptied. The pelvic floor muscles that are usually tightened relax, and the bladder muscles constrict; this forces urine out of the body through the urethra.
Causes of Overactive Bladder
With an overactive bladder, the bladder constricts when it is not full, creating a strong, immediate urge to urinate. Sometimes this urge causes incontinence or involuntary urination.
Potential causes of overactive bladder include:
- Enlarged prostate
- Urinary tract infections
- Certain types of medication
- Excess consumption of alcohol or caffeine
- Tumors or stones in the bladder
Drink More, Not Less
Whatever the cause of an overactive bladder, you can make changes in your lifestyle and activities that can help. One of these is making sure to drink plenty of fluids. Not getting enough to drink can irritate the bladder lining and worsen the overactive bladder symptoms. Urine is an irritant when concentrated (that is, when dehydrated).
Other Preventive Behavioral Measures
Additional ways to improve overactive bladder symptoms include:
- Strengthen pelvic floor muscles with Kegel exercises
- Urinate on a schedule, whether there is a strong urge to do so or not
- Delay urination with bladder training
- Avoid excessive consumption of alcohol and caffeine
- Lose weight if you are overweight
- Wear incontinence pads or specialized underwear to lessen the stress or worry of not getting to the bathroom in time
When changes in behavior are not enough, other treatment options are available for overactive bladder. Medications can relax the bladder and prevent the urge to urinate. Side effects of these drugs include dry mouth and constipation.
Botox injections temporarily paralyze the muscles of the bladder. These injections may be recommended for severe urge incontinence, and its effects last for up to five months.
More invasive treatments include implanting a nerve stimulator or surgery to enlarge or remove the bladder. These treatments should only be considered when other methods have failed.
If you have an overactive bladder, a urologist can help diagnose it and find the best treatment plan. Dr. Richard Natale is a board-certified urologist with offices in Concord & Charlotte, North Carolina—call (704) 786-5131 for an appointment today to relieve your overactive bladder.