September 18, 2014
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Bladder (Overactive)

 Health Home >> Bladder (Overactive) >> Overactive bladder overview 


Overactive bladder FAQs

Is overactive bladder a normal part of aging?
Although overactive bladder is more common in people over 40, it is not necessarily a normal part of aging. Only about 16% of people over 40 years of age have overactive bladder, and some people may never get it.

I think I might have overactive bladder. What are the symptoms?
Overactive bladder (OAB) is a condition associated with an intense urge to urinate. If you have OAB, you may urinate frequently (usually more than 8 times per day) and you may need to urinate several times during the night. In addition, you may also leak urine. If you have any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor about them. For more information about the symptoms and diagnosis of OAB, read "Overactive bladder symptoms and diagnosis."

What should I do if I think I have overactive bladder?
If you think you have overactive bladder, talk to your doctor. Your doctor will ensure that your symptoms aren't caused by another condition with similar symptoms such as a urinary tract infection (UTI), certain types of inflammation of the vagina, multiple sclerosis, bladder stones, or diabetes, or by medications such as diuretics (water pills). For more information about the symptoms and diagnosis of OAB, read "Overactive bladder symptoms and diagnosis."

What are Kegel exercises?
Kegel exercises are a type of pelvic floor muscle exercises developed to strengthen the pelvic floor so it can provide better support for the bladder. The key to doing pelvic floor muscle exercises is to do them every day, holding for a minimum of 5 to 10 seconds. Try to do 3 sets of 15 in a day. To make sure you are isolating the right muscles, try to stop the flow of urine when you are urinating - that uses the same muscles you want to contract when doing exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles.

What treatments are available for overactive bladder?
There are several treatment options for overactive bladder.

  • Lifestyle interventions such as reducing alcohol and caffeine intake, bladder training, pelvic floor muscle exercises, and biofeedback can be helpful for overactive bladder symptoms.
  • Medications called anticholinergics are also available to help manage symptoms. These medications help to reduce bladder contractions.
  • For some people with overactive bladder, surgical management is an option as well.

Talk to your doctor about what treatment options are best for you. For more information about treatment options, read "Overactive bladder management overview."

How long does it usually take for overactive bladder treatments to work?

How long treatments take to work depends on the treatment and the person. The effects of lifestyle changes such as reducing caffeine intake should be seen fairly quickly, usually within a week or two. Pelvic floor muscle exercises take at least 8 weeks to work. 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. Your treatment plan may need to be modified.

What can I do about dry mouth caused by my overactive bladder medication?
To manage dry mouth, try chewing sugarless gum, sucking on ice chips or sugarless hard candies, or using a saliva substitute (available in pharmacies). If you're still troubled by dry mouth, speak to your doctor.

What can I do about constipation caused by my overactive bladder medication?
To prevent and manage constipation, try increasing the amount of fibre in your diet and getting more exercise. You can also speak to your doctor or pharmacist about using medications to prevent or relieve constipation.


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