An overactive bladder is characterized by an urgent need to urinate and in extreme cases an uncontrollable bladder. This health condition can make it difficult to suppress urges to urinate and can lead to social embarrassment and increased anxiety for the sufferer. Overactive bladder sufferers may find that they need to urinate excessive amounts of times each day and may also find it difficult to reach the bathroom in time when an urge occurs resulting in a loss of bladder control.
Overactive Bladder Causes:
For many people with an overactive bladder, the main cause is due to the muscles of the bladder involuntarily contracting and as a result, causing frequent, sudden urges to urinate. People can suffer from this for different reasons, but some of the causes of overactive bladder include:
- Excessive consumption of caffeine or alcohol
- Certain medications
- Neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and strokes
- Poor kidney function
- Abnormalities in the bladder
- Enlarged prostate
- Acute urinary tract infections
- Pregnancy or recently giving birth
Overactive Bladder Symptoms:
- Frequent, strong and sudden urge to urinate
- Urinating more than eight times a day
- Unable to control urinating urges
- Awaking several times in the night needing to urinate
Tests and Diagnosis:
Overactive bladder can be diagnosed by a patient describing their symptoms to their doctor and the doctor will typically go over the patient’s medical history and conduct a physical examination to help form an accurate diagnosis. The doctor may also take a urinary sample from the patient to look for any potential infections or bladder abnormalities.
In addition to this, there are some more specific medical tests which can be used to help diagnose an overactive bladder which can include: measuring urine left in the bladder, measuring urine flow rate, creating images of bladder function and looking inside the bladder with a cystoscope.
Treatment and Drugs:
An overactive bladder treatment is usually by behavioral interventions, medications, surgery or in some cases a combination of all three.
For minor, to moderate cases of overactive bladder, a doctor may advise behavioral interventions. These will help train the patient to have higher levels of control over their bladder, which should help decrease the amount of times they need to urinate on a daily basis.
Behavioral interventions can include:
- Pelvic floor muscle exercises
- Absorbent pads
- Limiting amount of toilet trips per day (such as scheduling bathroom trips)
- Waiting a few minutes after urinating to check if the bladder is really empty
- Reducing the amount of daily liquid consumed
Medications for relieving symptoms of an overactive bladder can include:
- An oxybutynin skin patch
Surgery options for overactive bladder sufferers can include:
- Surgery to enlarge bladder capacity – Pieces of a patient’s bowel will be used to replace a portion of their bladder. This surgery is usually only recommended for people with severe overactive bladders as it can result in having to use a catheter for the rest of their lifetime.
- Surgery to remove the bladder – For extreme cases of an overactive bladder the bladder will be removed and in place a doctor will create a replacement or opening where a bag will be attached to collect the urine. This is for extreme cases of overactive bladder and is usually only performed as a very last resort.
Recovering from an overactive bladder can vary greatly from patient to patient. Some patients will be able to stop all symptoms by simply following some behavioral intervention tactics while others may not be able to find a cure without having to undergo surgery. It all depends on the individual, but in general an overactive bladder can usually be successfully treated to the extent that many (if not all) symptoms can be reduced or stopped all together.
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