Tips for Dealing With Overactive Bladder (OAB)

Here's help coping better with your overactive bladder.

Medically Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD
10 min read

Don't just "live with it" if you have an overactive bladder. Simple lifestyle changes and medications can make a big difference. To help you cope with OAB, WebMD editors searched through our best articles and OAB guides to pull out useful tips for daily living. Use these tips for better health and peace of mind.

OAB at Night
OAB at Work
OAB and Travel
OAB When You're Out and About
OAB Treatments
OAB and Diet
OAB Day to Day


  1. Encourage uninterrupted sleep: Avoid fluids after 6 p.m. so your bladder is empty at bedtime.
  2. Worrying about OAB accidents at bedtime? Protective pads or panties can help ease your mind.
  3. To help avoid sudden bathroom trips, try eliminating caffeine from your diet.
  4. Is OAB interfering with your sex life? Try emptying your bladder or drinking a little less before intimacy.
  5. A drink after work may be relaxing, but alcohol can worsen OAB symptoms -- interrupting your sleep. It may be time to cut back.
  6. Accidents and OAB can go hand-in-hand. Need a little reassurance at bedtime? Consider trying rubberized bed sheets.
  7. If medications like diuretics are causing you to produce more urine, try taking them in the morning, rather than before bed. Talk with your doctor.
  8. Don't drink fluids after 6 p.m. -- or at least two hours before bedtime -- to reduce trips to the bathroom during the night.
  9. Anxiety about accidents during sex can spoil the mood. Bring back the pleasure by finding positions that are more comfortable.
  10. Rest a little easier tonight: Give yourself plenty of unhurried time in the bathroom to make sure you completely empty your bladder before bed.
  11. Can't get back to sleep after a bathroom trip in the night? Don't linger sleepless in bed. Get up and do something until you feel tired again.
  12. If OAB keeps you up night after night, get help. Talk with your doctor.

A great sex life and a good night's sleep don't have to be a thing of the past when you have OAB. Simple lifestyle and diet changes can really help you successfully manage overactive bladder.

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  1. Put your work routine to good use. Scheduled toileting - emptying your bladder regularly on a schedule -- may help you control OAB symptoms.
  2. They share your pain: 38% of men and 22% of women with OAB said they're worried about interrupting meetings.
  3. Create a support network. Educate your co-workers about OAB and your experiences with it.
  4. Women: Need a little help to avoid leaks during a hectic work day? A tampon or pessary (like a diaphragm) can give that bit of support your pelvic tissues need.
  5. It's 10 a.m. and you need a pick-me-up. As tempting as a piping hot cup of coffee may be, caffeine can cause leaks. It may be time to go herbal!
  6. Talk with your boss about situating your cubicle or work station closer to the bathroom.
  7. Your workday may be hectic, but your bathroom breaks shouldn't be. Take plenty of time to completely empty your bladder.
  8. Time fluids carefully. Take a bathroom break before you start work and before meetings.
  9. Worried about a wetting accident? Keep fresh clothes available at work.
  10. Make use of meeting time: Do Kegel exercises. For three seconds to five seconds, tighten the muscles that control urination. Rest for 10 seconds. Do 10 repetitions.
  11. Avoid that cup of coffee when the 3 o'clock blahs hit. Caffeine is a diuretic and can encourage leaks when you have OAB.
  12. Don't let OAB take a toll on your work life. OAB isn't a normal part of getting older. Talk to your doctor about lifestyle changes and medications that can help.

Managing a full and busy work day can be a challenge for those with OAB, but with a few well-planned breaks, some timing, and a little help from your boss or co-workers, it can be done!

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  1. Are you a road warrior? While that caffeinated cola may keep you awake when driving, the caffeine can cause leaks. It may be time to cut back.
  2. Biofeedback may help control OAB. Talk with your doctor about this treatment option -- then perfect the practice on your next long plane trip!
  3. Traveling by air? Bring your medication, supplies, and insurance information in your carry-on bag -- in case you become separated from your luggage.
  4. When you travel, stay on the medication schedule you're used to at home, even though your routine while away may be very different.
  5. Traveling far and wide? Continue to follow the OAB dietary and lifestyle guidelines that work for you at home.
  6. On a whirlwind trip? Enjoy yourself without overindulging on foods and beverages that may aggravate your OAB symptoms.
  7. When traveling, remember to bring along enough medication to last your whole trip.
  8. Stash a little cash in your pocket when traveling. Next time you see a ";Customers Only"; sign on a restroom door, you can quickly become a patron!
  9. Did you know you can buy portable toilets to take along on trips? Try a little online research: Options vary in size and expense.
  10. Traveling awhile? It might be helpful to bring along your urologist's phone number, in case you have questions while away.
  11. Flying? Don't leave check-in to the last minute. Phone or go online early to book your seat -- increasing your chances of getting a spot near the restroom.
  12. Don't leave medication in your checked baggage when you fly. Guard against loss by bringing drugs and other vitals with you in your carry-on luggage.

Traveling offers new sights and sounds, a busy schedule, and the temptation to forget your normal routine. Enjoy your journey, but stick with the lifestyle and medication that helps you control OAB symptoms.

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  1. Worried about leaks at the gym? A tampon or pessary (similar to a diaphragm) can offer support to pelvic tissues, helping you control leaks.
  2. Going out to a restaurant, grocery store, or shopping mall? Time your fluids carefully, and check bathroom locations as soon as you arrive.
  3. Eating out tonight? You may want to cut back on the cocktails. Alcohol can aggravate your OAB symptoms.
  4. Buy concert or sports seats near bathrooms. Cut liquid intake three to four hours before leaving the house. Once there, take a bathroom break before lines get long.
  5. A little embarrassed about going to the store to buy adult pads or briefs? Remember, you can order products easily online.
  6. Passionate about those jalapeno poppers at the local bistro? It may be time to go cold turkey -- spicy foods can stimulate the bladder.
  7. Reaching for the artificial sweetener when you order out? Such sweeteners may irritate your bladder -- increasing OAB symptoms.
  8. Have a lot to do today? Schedule in some rest breaks. Doing too much can overtire muscles -- leading to urine leakage.
  9. When you're out, don't forget scheduled toileting (emptying your bladder regularly to prevent leaking). This routine can help control OAB symptoms.
  10. OAB affects one out of every 11 people in the U.S. Look around you at the mall, the restaurant. You're not alone. Talk to your doctor; get help -- today!
  11. Always looking for a bathroom when you're out? Don't just accept OAB. Talk to your doctor -- infections and other problems can cause OAB symptoms.
  12. Think OAB isn't a valid medical condition? Not true! As many as 33 million Americans have OAB and help is available. Talk with your health care provider today.

Managing your OAB may be as simple as knowing which foods trigger symptoms, or resting during an eventful day. Coping with overactive bladder -- away or at home -- is in your hands.

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  1. Is your OAB medication leaving you with a dry mouth? Talk to your doctor about adjusting your dosage.
  2. Women: Vaginal weight training can help prevent leaks. Small weights are held within the vagina by tightening the muscles. Do them twice daily for 15 minutes, for four to six weeks.
  3. Looking for a doctor to help you manage OAB? Urologists specialize in treating bladder and urinary issues.
  4. Menopause can play a role in contributing to OAB. Some women find relief with estrogen administered vaginally. Talk to your doctor.
  5. Mild electrical pulses (called pelvic floor electrical stimulation), can stimulate muscle contractions, helping you control OAB symptoms. Do them in conjunction with Kegel exercises.
  6. Smoking can aggravate your bladder. If you smoke, try quitting. Your health care provider can help with suggestions on how.
  7. On rare occasions, surgery may help a woman with overactive bladder. Discuss with your health care provider whether the ";sling procedure"; or other surgery is right for you.
  8. Kegel exercises help strengthen pelvic muscles. Tighten the muscles that control urination for three to five seconds. Rest for 10 seconds. Do 10 repetitions.
  9. Biofeedback can help you gain awareness of your pelvic muscles and reduce OAB symptoms. Talk with your health care provider to learn more.
  10. Don't give up those Kegel exercises! It may take eight weeks before you notice improvement. And Kegels can really improve -- even prevent -- OAB.
  11. OAB isn't a normal part of aging, despite what friends or family may say. Talk with your health care provider, and get help for OAB -- today.

Between lifestyle changes, exercises, medication and perhaps even surgery, you can manage -- or even prevent -- overactive bladder symptoms. Your health care providers can help you discover the treatments best for you.

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  1. If you have OAB, it's important to enjoy a fiber-rich diet to avoid complications like constipation.
  2. Sometimes extra weight can lead to overactive bladder. Talk with your health care provider to learn if this might be the cause of your OAB.
  3. Some medications -- especially those with caffeine or diuretics in them -- can worsen OAB. Consult with your doctor to know for sure.
  4. Chocolate, coffee, tea, and cola -- food and drinks with caffeine -- can make your OAB symptoms worse. Try cutting back.
  5. OAB can be very stressful at times. Don't go it alone: Talk to your health care team, get treatment, and find support.
  6. Some medications, like prescription diuretics, sedatives, and antidepressants, can lead to OAB symptoms. Talk to your doctor before stopping any medication.
  7. Use waiting time to manage OAB: Kegel exercises can improve, and even prevent, overactive bladder symptoms. Perform them 30 to 80 times daily for four to six weeks.
  8. Pelvic muscle rehabilitation (there are several styles) can improve pelvic muscle tone and prevent leakage. Talk to you doctor or look online to learn more.
  9. Did you know smoking can irritate your bladder? This may be the motivation you need to quit at last!
  10. Is your over-the-counter allergy medicine aggravating your OAB symptoms? Discuss the possibilities with your doctor.
  11. Never stop taking a medication because you think it might be aggravating your OAB. Talk with your doctor to know for sure -- there could be other causes.
  12. Don't let embarrassment keep you from talking to your doctor about OAB, a condition that affects millions of Americans -- of all ages.

Overactive bladder can be triggered, or irritated, by many things, from medications to a simple cola. It's a great idea to work with your health care provider to learn which diet and lifestyle changes will help you best manage your OAB symptoms.

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  1. Some medications -- like high blood pressure drugs and antihistamines -- may aggravate a woman's OAB. Talk to your doctor to know for sure.
  2. Discussing OAB with your partner isn't simple, but it may offer a big boost to your relationship. Start the conversation today.
  3. Kegel exercises take just five minutes and can be done anywhere, anytime. Keep them up for at least four to six weeks to see improvement. Don't give up!
  4. OAB can lead to depression in some men and women. Millions of Americans cope with bladder control problems -- reach out, find support.
  5. Taking OAB medication? Ask your doctor about possible side effects, such as becoming overheated more easily or more sensitive to light.
  6. Active women: If you need just a little OAB help during exercise, a tampon or pessary (like a diaphragm) can help support your pelvic tissues, controlling leaks.
  7. If your OAB medication is leaving you with dry mouth, try sugar-free hard candy or gum. Or talk to your doctor about modifying your medication.
  8. You're not alone! As many as 33 million other Americans have bladder control problems. Find support groups -- and lots of other resources -- online.
  9. Talk with your significant other about your OAB issues. Getting the problem into the open can lead to greater affection and trust.
  10. Waiting in line? Put on hold? Relaxation exercises can help suppress OAB urges.
  11. Heavily restricting your liquid consumption because of OAB? Stop! You may be making the problem worse, irritating your bladder.
  12. Don't ignore depression. Research shows that those with incontinence issues are more likely to suffer from major depression. Get help today.

Dealing with OAB daily can be a challenge, but you're not alone. Friends, family, health care providers, and others coping with OAB can be a rich source of support and ideas. Reach out!

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