Urgency and Frequency Bothering You?

overactive-bladder

By Nancy Muller, PhD,
Executive Director
National Association For Continence

Typical symptoms of overactive bladder (OAB) include:

  • urinating more than eight times per day or more than once at night (urinary frequency)
  • a strong and sudden desire to urinate (urinary urgency).

If the urge to urinate cannot be controlled before reaching the toilet in time, overactive bladder can result in urgency urinary incontinence (involuntarily emptying the contents of the bladder). OAB is a treatable medical condition that interferes greatly with personal freedom and quality of life.

In a normal person without overactive bladder, the bladder wall is relaxed while it fills and stores urine that has been produced by the kidneys and sent to the bladder. During this time, the urethra is closed off by the sphincter muscles. Muscles of the pelvic floor help to keep the bladder outlet closed during filling by supporting the urethra. As the bladder becomes full, it sends a signal to the brain which in turn activates other signals that cause the pelvic floor as well as muscles at the outlet of the bladder to relax and open up. As this occurs, the muscle in the wall of the bladder begins to contract and continues contracting to push out urine from the bladder until it is virtually empty.

If this sequence happens out of order – and suddenly the brain gets a signal to empty the bladder without warning or the bladder keeps telling the brain it is full when it isn’t – overactive bladder may be present. Why the bladder muscle malfunctions remains unclear. It is known that in older men, an enlarged prostate (BPH) can contribute to OAB-like symptoms. So can a dropped bladder (prolapse) in women. But neurological diseases or nerve damage can also cause a neurogenic bladder whose signals are mixed up.

Behavioral strategies – including dietary changes, weight loss in the obese, bladder retraining, and pelvic floor strengthening – can reduce symptoms of OAB. There are numerous prescription medications – including a transdermal patch and a gel – which can lessen the urgency and reduce the frequency of urination. There is minimally invasive in-office nerve stimulation therapy and even an implanted device that “paces” the signals to and from the bladder.

On the first day of Bladder Health Week, November 12 – 16, I am leading a free webinar on these strategies and interventions to which consumers are invited. Come join us!

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3 Responses to Urgency and Frequency Bothering You?

  1. Brian Parker says:

    My mom is 86 yrs old and has a problem with involuntary urinating. She wears multiple pads to try and stay dry but this is becoming inceasingly more difficult. I know she really does not want another pill to take. She presently takes a water pill to eleviate ankle swelling and water surrounding her heart (prescribed by her cardio doctor). Is there any type of under garment that would be easier for her to manage? What other treatments are available?

  2. WAYNE S. WILLIAMS says:

    I would be very grateful if someone could tell me [[email protected]] whether there are ANY non-Rx supplements that increase urine flow and/or help empty the Bladder?

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