Here are the top 10 things you should know about overactive bladder (OAB):
1. You're not alone. Overactive bladder is quite common, especially after the age of 40.
About 16% of people over the age of 40 experience the symptoms of overactive bladder, and it tends to occur earlier in women. So if you think you might have overactive bladder, talk to your doctor so it can be properly diagnosed and treated.
2. You don't have to suffer from overactive bladder symptoms.
Some people with overactive bladder think that it's a normal part of aging and something that should just be tolerated. However, several treatment options can help with overactive bladder symptoms. Talk to your doctor about treatment options that are suitable for you, especially if your symptoms are interfering with your life.
3. If you have overactive bladder, caffeine is not your friend.
Caffeine can cause or aggravate overactive bladder symptoms. To gradually cut down on your caffeine intake, switch to decaffeinated beverages and drink more water as a substitute. For more information, read our "Overactive bladder: lifestyle interventions" article.
4. Patience is a virtue when it comes to overactive bladder treatment.
Some overactive bladder treatments may take a bit of time before you see results. For example, pelvic floor muscle exercises take at least 8 weeks to work, and most overactive bladder medications take 2 to 4 weeks to be effective. If you have concerns about your treatment for overactive bladder or are not seeing the results you expected, talk to your doctor.
5. Overactive bladder medications are not for everyone.
Some people should not take the types of medications - called anticholinergic medications - that are commonly used to manage overactive bladder. You may not be able to take overactive bladder medications if you:
Talk to your doctor to see if overactive bladder medications are right for you.
6. Overactive bladder can affect the quality of your life.
Overactive bladder may make you feel embarrassed or may interfere with many activities you enjoy. You may start to avoid certain activities if you are unsure that you'll have quick access to a bathroom. If overactive bladder symptoms affect you in this way, talk to your doctor to find out what treatment options are best for you.
7. Nurse Continence Advisors can help you manage overactive bladder.
A Nurse Continence Advisor (NCA) is a type of health care professional specially trained to help you cope with overactive bladder. If you are diagnosed with overactive bladder, talk to your doctor or find out if there is an NCA in your area.
8. Overactive bladder can affect your sleep.
Many people with overactive bladder have to get up out of bed at least once during the night to urinate. This sleep disruption may affect the quantity and quality of your sleep, especially if you find it hard to fall back to sleep after waking up. This can leave you feeling tired and unrested and can eventually affect your job performance or ability to function normally during the day.
9. Exercises can help overactive bladder symptoms.
Exercises such as Kegel exercises can help to strengthen pelvic floor muscles and improve overactive bladder symptoms. Stick with them, though, as it can take up to 2 months to see an improvement.
10. Drinking less isn’t always the answer and can actually make your symptoms worse.
If you have overactive bladder, you may think that drinking less will help your symptoms. However, if you don’t drink enough fluids, your urine can become more concentrated and irritate your bladder, making your overactive bladder symptoms worse. Ask your doctor how much fluid is right for you.
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