Overactive Bladder: Eight Things to Know about Urge Incontinence

Are you using the bathroom so frequently it impacts your daily activities? Are you afraid to travel in the car because you might have the sudden and uncontrollable urge to go? If so, you may be suffering from overactive bladder (OAB), also known as urge incontinence.

This type of incontinence happens because of an overactive bladder muscle that pushes urine out of the bladder. It can happen during any stage of life and can be caused by a lot of things – sometimes by bladder irritation or even stress. Often, men experience OAB after having prostate problems, and women tend to notice it after going through menopause.

Living with urinary incontinence can be uncomfortable, embarrassing and inconvenient. You can take comfort in the fact you’re not alone. The Urology Care Foundation reports more than 30 percent of men and 40 percent of women in the U.S. are dealing with overactive bladder.

There’s no need to struggle with urge incontinence. Dr. Matthew Kincade with Mercy Clinic Urology has eight things you need to know about slowing down an overactive bladder.

  1. Be conservative. Unless your physician has said otherwise, be moderate in the amount of liquid you drink and remember to use the bathroom periodically. Try to avoid drinking very much fluid after dinner.
  2. Cut down or eliminate caffeine. Caffeine can actually be a bladder irritant, so if you can’t live without your morning Joe, try decaf instead. One to two caffeinated beverages a day is okay, but more than that can affect your bladder.
  3. Stay away from bubbly – the alcoholic kind and the carbonated kind. Both alcohol and carbonated drinks can contribute to OAB.
  4. Keep a bladder diaryThis can be a helpful tool when talking to your doctor. Write down the date, time, how urgent it felt, where the leak happened, etc.
  5. Flex your muscles. If your OAB has been caused by problems with your pelvic muscles, physical therapy can sometimes help. Kegel exercises can help strengthen those muscles as well.
  6. Consider medication. If lifestyle changes don’t do the trick, medication can help slow your bladder and give you minutes (rather than seconds) to get to the bathroom.
  7. Get Botox. That’s right – Botox isn’t just for fighting aging. Your urologist can inject small amount of Botox into the wall of your bladder about every nine months, which can help decrease urges and reduce the number of times you have to use the bathroom.
  8. Talk to your doctor about neuromodulation, also called electrical stimulation. Neuromodulation helps improve nerve communication between the brain and bladder so your bladder isn’t trying to convince your brain it needs to “go” all the time. It’s done by surgically implanting a small device, similar to a pacemaker, that stimulates the nerve. Your urologist can do a test in the office to determine if the therapy might work for you. If it’s successful, and you move forward with surgery, the device would need to be replaced every three to five years.

If you’re experiencing overactive bladder, talk to your doctor. It’s much harder to hide embarrassing symptoms than to talk to a health care professional about them. Don’t continue to let urinary incontinence run your life.

Mercy is ready to help you get back to living life to the fullest – and uninterrupted by bathroom breaks.

Matthew Kincade, MD, is a urologist at Mercy Clinic Urology – S. Fremont. To schedule an appointment, call 417-820-0300.