An overactive bladder can be a distressing condition to live with, as the strong urge to urinate and fear of leakage is always on your mind. Overactive bladder, or OAB, affects about 15 percent of the North American population. People who have OAB find themselves using the bathroom eight or more times a day and can even have urge incontinence, which is an involuntary loss of urine.
Although it may appear that the older we get, the higher our risk of developing OAB is, overactive bladder is really not an age-related condition. OAB occurs when the detrusor muscle – within the wall of the bladder – contracts involuntarily. This, in turn, leads to more frequent trips to the bathroom.
There are many factors and causes of overactive bladder. Knowing what exactly causes your OAB can help choose a more specific treatment, which will be more effective in your case. Some common triggers contributing to an overactive bladder include medications, neurological conditions like multiple sclerosis, diet, and infections. Aside from medical options, there are also some natural home remedies and exercises, which can help you better manage your overactive bladder.
Keep your weight in check
You may not realize this, but just as being overweight can lead to general illness, it can also lead to poor bladder health. More weight means more pressure added on your bladder, leaving you feeling like you always have to go.
An easy way to improve your bladder then is to keep your weight in check. Dropping a few pounds may be all it takes to relieve that constant added pressure on your bladder.
Mind your beverages
Maybe you enjoy a nightcap in the evening, or maybe you can’t go a day without coffee. In either case, alcohol and caffeinated beverages are not friends to your bladder. Both are diuretics, meaning, they promote urination. Although drinking any liquid will eventually increase the pressure in the bladder, caffeine and alcohol are more effective at this.
Limit your consumption of these types of beverages and stick with water for hydration instead.
If you are a smoker, you’ve probably heard it a thousands times to stop. But if you’re also experiencing bladder troubles, there’s yet another reason to quit.
Smoking is linked to bladder cancer. It is also known to stimulate the bladder to dump more urine. Additionally, if your smoking habit has given you a chronic cough, you’re more likely to experience urine leakage as well.
Avoid urinary tract infections
Urinary tract infections or UTIs can be quite painful and can temporarily increase incontinence. Bacteria affect the bladder, causing pain, frequent urination, and even a false sensation of having to urinate. Although treatable with medication, preventing UTIs is the best way to protect your bladder.
Chronic UTIs can cause permanent damage to the bladder as well as the kidneys. Consuming pure cranberry juice is an effective means of minimizing your risk of developing a UTI. Likewise, always make sure you are not holding in your urine, make it a habit to pee after sex, and properly clean yourself after peeing.
Pay attention to your medications
Maybe, you haven’t experienced incontinence your whole life, but since you began a particular medication you have bladder troubles. This is not as uncommon as you think. In fact, there are over 300 different medications that can cause or worsen incontinence.
If you’ve noticed that since you’ve begun a medication your bladder function has changed, speak with your doctor to see if there are any alternatives you can take.
Kegels are exercises specifically for the muscles of your pelvic floor. They strengthen your ability to hold in urine, thus reducing the risk of leaks and accidents. The good thing about Kegel exercises is that they can be done anytime and anywhere because they are super discreet!
To perform Kegels, simply contract your pelvic area as if you were holding in urine, hold the position for a few seconds, release, and repeat. As mentioned, this can be done anytime, because no one knows you are doing them. So whether you are watching TV or sitting in the office, you can exercise and improve your pelvic floor muscles.
You can actually train your bladder to hold more urine. Start by establishing your baseline – how many times do you urinate a day? Once you have an estimated schedule, start training your bladder by holding in your urine for longer durations in-between urine breaks each day. By practicing this technique, your bladder will “learn” to hold more urine over time.
Your doctor will provide you with a device that will let them know if you are squeezing the right muscles while performing pelvic floor exercises. With this feedback, you can better improve your technique in order to promote a strong bladder.
Abs and core exercises
Working out your abdomen and core will not only improve posture and strength, but can also strengthen your bladder. This is because, according to a mounting body of research, the pelvic and core muscles work together. Taking part in regular exercise with a focus on strengthening your core and back may provide you with benefits for your bladder as well.
As you can see, there are natural methods to make your bladder stronger and better manage your overactive bladder condition. By combining home remedies with exercises, you can reduce urinary urgency and prevent the leaks.