Hope for Overactive Bladder Problems
A range of OAB treatments, from pills to Botox, can help you reclaim your life.
Overactive Bladder Help: Lifestyle Adjustments
If OAB is the problem, doctors typically suggest lifestyle adjustments that may help. Among them:
- Limit fluid intake, especially after dinner. Bozeman asks OAB patients how much they drink in a typical day, finding that some have fallen prey to bad advice to drink as much water as possible. Some of her patients, she has found, drink 200 ounces of water a day. She tells them to cut back to a normal amount, which she considers about 64 ounces total.
- Limit caffeine and alcohol intake. "Caffeine stimulates you to go more frequently," Bozeman says. So does alcohol.
- Ask your doctor about adjustments in medication that can affect urine output. Taking diuretics at a different time of day, for instance, might help.
- Perform Kegels, the pelvic floor exercises often recommended after a woman delivers a child. Your doctor should be able to help you learn. Bozeman's crash course: "Learn how to do a Kegel when you are on the toilet by stopping the stream." That's the muscle you want to strengthen. To check your form: "Try to tighten it while naked in front of a mirror," she says. "Nothing on the outside should move."
Know when to use Kegels. "When you get the urge, stop, stand still, do a Kegel and the bladder spasm should ease up," Bozeman says. "Then walk slowly to the bathroom."
Medications for Overactive Bladder
If lifestyle adjustments aren't enough, doctors can choose from several prescription medications to treat OAB.
The drugs commonly prescribed work by relaxing the muscles and preventing the bladder spasm. Among the commonly prescribed are:
- Detrol LA (tolterodine)
- Enablex (darifenacin)
- Sanctura (trospium)
- Vesicare (solifenacin)
- Ditropan XL (oxybutynin)
"They work very well in the majority of cases," Bozeman says. About 75% of OAB patients get improvement on the medications. "I have plenty of patients who are on medication and haven't had an accident since."
But like most drugs these overactive bladder treatments can have side effects, including dry mouth and constipation, and that can make you drink more water, in turn increasing urine output.