Medications used for overactive bladder symptoms help to control urgency, frequency and urge incontinence. They work by helping the bladder muscle to relax and allow a larger amount of urine to be stored. It is important to take the medication as ordered to see if this will help you. It can take up to 4-6 weeks before you notice changes to your symptoms. There are several different medications available on the market to try.
These medications can cause some side effects. The usual side effects are dry mouth and constipation. Simple strategies for managing these symptoms include:
- chewing sugar-free gum
- sucking on sugar-free hard candy (ex. lemon drops)
- sipping water throughout the day
- ice chips throughout the day
- avoiding mouthwashes with alcohol in them
- use an oral lubricant (ex. Biotene)
To Avoid Constipation:
- have an adequate fluid intake (6-8 8oz glasses a day) preferably water
- eat a diet that includes fruits, vegetables and whole grains
- take a fiber supplement daily (ex. Benefiber, Metamucil)
- take a stool softener once or twice a day (ex. Colace)
- regular exercise everyday
Avoid Bladder Irritants: these can worsen the overactive bladder symptoms
- reduce your intake of bladder irritants. These include: acidic fruits and beverages (oranges, grapefruit, pineapple, tomatoes and their juices, tomato sauce, lemons, limes, strawberries and mangoes, chocolate, artificial sweeteners, alcohol and smoking)
- reduce or stop your intake of coffee, tea, and carbonated beverages! Even decaffeinated coffee and tea can cause irritative symptoms in your bladder!
- increase your water intake
- drink juices that are non-irritants (grape, cranberry, cherry or apple juices)
These measures can help manage the possible side effects and help you to continue to take these medications.
This blog post was written by Cheryl LeCroy, MSN, RN, clinical coordinator with Virginia Women’s Continence Center at Virginia Women’s Center in Richmond, VA.