What Makes Overactive Bladder Worse?

Medically Reviewed by Nazia Q Bandukwala, DO on July 18, 2023
3 min read

You may not mean to, but you could be making your overactive bladder worse. Fortunately, you can do things that may reduce those bothersome urges to go.

This seems like a good way to manage OAB. After all, you don't want to risk a leak, right? But heading to the bathroom every time you feel the urge isn't doing you any favors.

Doctors who focus on OAB say it's better to practice holding your urine. This helps strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, which will give you better control of your bladder's spasms.

Your doctor might even put you on a schedule to help retrain your bladder. Instead of urinating when you feel like it, you'll go regularly every hour, for example. As you build your muscles, you'll wait a bit longer between trips to the bathroom. Your bladder will learn to relax, and you'll find it's easier to hold it.

More often than not, OAB is a chronic condition; it can get better, but it may not ever go away completely. To start with, doctors often recommend exercises such as Kegels to strengthen pelvic floor muscles and give you more control over your urine flow. Many people go like gangbusters with their exercises at first, then, over time, taper off. When their symptoms return, they wonder why.

To truly control symptoms, you'll need to keep doing pelvic-floor strengthening for the rest of your life. But that 5 minutes a day will make a big difference.

Research shows that lowering the amount of caffeine you have each day to less than 100 mg can really make your control better. That means no more than one cup of coffee a day.

For some people, just cutting back on caffeine is enough. Others, though, need to cut caffeine out completely. See what works for you, but ease off slowly. Going cold turkey on caffeine might give you headaches.

Alcohol causes your body to make more urine, which means you'll have to go to the bathroom more often. Alcohol also stimulates your bladder, which means you'll feel it more urgently, too. Drinking in the evening can make overnight control especially hard.

You may not want to give up alcohol completely, but it's a good place to start. If that helps, you can have a drink every now and then, as long as your symptoms don't get worse.

Many medications could be having an effect on your bladder. They include:

Let your doctor know about all of the drugs, vitamins, and supplements you take, especially any of these. You may be able to try a different drug or change the dose, which might help your OAB.