Jun 9, 2016

What You Need to Know About Overactive Bladder

Having to urinate frequently is normal if it happens every now and then. Maybe you are drinking more diuretics than you usually do, or you are making a conscious effort to drink more water. Even eating certain foods may make you take a few extra trips to the bathroom. However, when every now and then becomes way too often, it may be a sign of overactive bladder. This affects over 13 million adults in the U.S.

Most Common Symptoms

If you suffer from an overactive bladder, you likely experience a frequent urgent, intense, and overwhelming need to immediately urinate. This is oftentimes so sudden that it can be difficult to make it to the bathroom in time, even if it is close by. This may happen at any time during the day, regardless of your fluid intake for the day. This is even possible after you feel as if your bladder has been emptied fully.

In one day, you should not feel the need to urinate over eight times. If you feel the need to urinate much more frequently than this, you may be suffering from an overactive bladder. Also, a bladder that feels full should release a complete and full urination. If your bladder feels full, but you are only able to release a few drops, something may be wrong.

Overactive bladder may get you out of bed up to three times a night to empty your bladder. This disrupts sleep, leaving you tired in the morning. This symptom is referred to as nocturia. This becomes increasingly common with age, but nocturia is also a common symptom of overactive bladder. Consistent disrupted sleep can have detrimental effects on overall health, wellbeing, and mood.

A leaking bladder is a side effect of overactive bladder. While accidents may be minor, like a small leak prior to making it to the toilet, they can also be more severe. If you are unable to stop urinating prior to reaching the bathroom, you could be suffering from overactive bladder. Accidents can be minor or serious, but they are always unpleasant and can be embarrassing.

Lifestyle Changes

Having an overactive bladder can require you to make some serious life changes. While you were once able to go about your day freely without worrying about having an accident, once a bladder is overactive, it is important to always be aware where a bathroom is and plan your day around having access.

People may also drink less to try to control their need to urinate. People may also avoid social situations for the fear that an accident may occur. People may also change their choice of beverages to not include anything that is a diuretic or a drink that causes urination to happen more frequently.


For mild symptoms of overactive bladder, you can follow a fluid drinking schedule so you are able to try to predict your bathroom trips. Also, avoid drinking anything right before going to sleep. Limiting caffeine and alcohol are a great way to calm an overactive bladder as well.

Kegel exercises can be effective in strengthening the pelvic floor. These exercises use muscle contractions to strengthen the muscles around the bladder, helping you to be able to hold in urine for a longer amount of time. You can also train your bladder by not urinating until you absolutely have to whenever possible and by scheduling timed bathroom breaks to train your body.

Protective undergarments are available to help catch bladder leakage and ease some of the anxiety of having an accident. This can help to create some confidence when you are in public or away from a restroom.

It is important to see a doctor if home remedies are not able to provide relief. You should not be embarrassed about your urinary problems, as they are common. Some symptoms of an overactive bladder may lead a doctor to find an underlying condition such as diabetes or a urinary tract infection. Depending on the basis of your overactive bladder, a doctor can treat it appropriately.


Certain drugs can help ease the symptoms of overactive bladder. Some drugs work by relaxing the bladder, stopping involuntary contractions that create the urge to urinate. Other drugs strengthen weakened tissues around the bladder. This helps to improve bladder control.

Anticholinergic drugs are the largest class of drugs to treat overactive bladder. These drugs work by blocking acetylcholine, which is a chemical in the body that sends a message to the bladder to contract. With this chemical blocked, bladder contractions that result in the release of urine are reduced.

Beta-3 adrenergic drugs work by relaxing the muscle that is in the walls of the bladder. This helps the bladder to hold more urine before releasing it.

Anti-spasmodic drugs reduce bladder spasms. While this drug is effective, it is older and has shown to not work as well as more recently released drugs to treat overactive bladder.

Risk Factors

Overactive bladder can happen for many reasons. Sometimes finding the underlying condition and treating that first can completely relieve symptoms. For example, neurological disorders like multiple sclerosis can cause bladder contractions more often than normal. Men may have an overactive bladder due to an enlarged prostate gland. Cancer and bladder stones can also lead to overactive bladder.

GongTo / Shutterstock.com

GongTo / Shutterstock.com

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