On overactive bladder can have significant implications on your social life, while also hampering your ability to sleep. Whether you’re finding yourself rushing to the bathroom frequently, experiencing unbearable urges to urinate, or are unable to get a good night’s sleep, there’s no question that an overactive bladder can take its toll in multiple ways.
There is no “one size fits all” approach to treatment. The best thing to do is talk to your doctor to figure out what method may work best for you, whether through medications, surgery, or physical therapy. But there are also a few preliminary steps you can take on your own to try and limit the impact of an overactive bladder.
The first is tinkering with your diet and beverage intake. Caffeine and alcohol are both diuretics that can increase the frequency and urge to urinate, creating problems for people with an overactive bladder. But they aren’t the only culprits. Other foods and beverages can stimulate the bladder. These include:
- Carbonated drinks
- Cranberry juice
- Aspartame in artificial sweeteners
- Spicy foods
- Acidic foods like tomato sauce and oranges
- Night-time symptoms may be lowered by less fluid intake before bed
It should be noted that some people like to approach an overactive bladder by drastically reducing their overall fluid intake. This can be risky: too little fluid can increase the likelihood of dehydration, while highly concentrated urine may irritate and worsen overactive bladder symptoms. Instead, monitor what and when you drink.
Another step you can take is weight loss. Obesity has emerged as a direct risk factor for overactive bladder, and losing or controlling weight may help reduce symptoms. It’s possible that added belly fat increases pressure on the bladder or pelvic floor, and losing some of it relieves the pressure. Aiming for weight loss of about one or two pounds per week is a reasonable and sustainable goal.
These two steps may help reduce the impact of your overactive bladder and can be done without the care of a physician. If you’re trying them and they don’t work—give yourself a week or a few weeks to see if they take effect—talk to your doctor about other treatment options.