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Incontinence & Overactive Bladder Health Center

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Overactive Bladder - Topic Overview

How is overactive bladder diagnosed?

Your doctor will do a physical exam. He or she will ask what kinds of fluids you drink and how much. Your doctor will also want to know how often you urinate, how much, and if you leak. It may help to write down these things in a bladder diary(What is a PDF document?) for 3 or 4 days before you see your doctor.

Your doctor probably will also do a few tests, such as:

You may have more tests if your doctor thinks your symptoms could be caused by other problems, such as diabetes or prostate disease.

How is it treated?

Things to try at home

The first step in treatment will be to try some things at home, such as urinating at scheduled times. This is called bladder retraining.

You can also do special exercises called Kegels to make your pelvic muscles stronger. These muscles control the flow of urine. Doing these exercises can improve some bladder problems. It may help to work with a physical therapist who has special training in pelvic muscle exercises.

There are other changes you can make that can help:

  • Cut back on caffeine drinks, such as coffee, tea, and sodas.
  • If it bothers you to get up at night to urinate, cut down on fluids before bed. But don't cut down on fluids at other times of the day. You need them to stay healthy.
  • At night, if you have trouble getting to the toilet in time, clear a path from your bed to the bathroom. Or you could put a portable toilet by your bed.
  • Get to and stay at a healthy weight.


If your symptoms really bother you or affect your quality of life, your doctor may suggest that you try medicine along with bladder training and exercises.

  • Medicines that calm the bladder muscles are used to treat overactive bladder. The medicines for men are the same as medicines for women. They may cause side effects like dry mouth and constipation.
  • Botox (botulinum toxin) may be an option when other medicines don't work. It helps relax the bladder muscles. You may need to get a shot every 3 months. Side effects may include having pain when you urinate, not being able to urinate easily, and getting a urinary tract infection (UTI). If you get a Botox shot, you may need to take antibiotics to reduce your risk for getting a UTI.
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