Overactive bladder is a medical condition that causes sudden and frequent urges to urinate. These urges may wake you up during the night and even cause unintentional urine loss, known as urgency incontinence. Individuals suffering from overactive bladder often experience embarrassment and isolate themselves.
Women who have given birth or are menopausal are at an increased risk of developing an overactive bladder. As men age, their risk of an enlarged prostate increases. Maintaining good prostate health through supplementation and routine visits to your doctor can help reduce the risk of overactive bladder.
What Are the Symptoms of an Overactive Bladder?
Overactive bladder can cause a number of uncomfortable and even embarrassing symptoms. If you suffer from overactive bladder, the following symptoms can occur:
- Urinary Urgency - A sudden urge to urinate, which can be difficult to control
- Urgency Incontinence – the unintentional loss of urine when an urge to urinate occurs
- Frequent Urination – needing to go eight or more times within a 24 hour period
- Nocturia - waking up two or more times through the night to go urinate
An overactive bladder can disrupt your life, even if you are able to make it to the bathroom when an urge hits. The frequent need to urinate, along with nighttime trips to the bathroom can make you miserable.
What Causes Overactive Bladder?
Overactive bladder can be caused by several different issues and can even be a combination of issues. Some of the most common causes of overactive bladder include:
- Weak pelvic muscles due to childbirth can cause your bladder to sag
- Nerve damage trauma, as well as illnesses like a stroke, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, herniated discs, surgeries, or radiation therapy, can confuse the signals sent to and from the brain, causing your bladder to empty at the wrong time
- Medications, caffeine, and alcohol can dull the nerves, resulting in bladder overflow
- Infections – Urinary tract infections can irritate the nerves in the bladder, resulting in urinary incontinence
- Excess weight can place extra pressure on your bladder, leading to incontinence
- Estrogen deficiency can cause the pelvic floor muscles to relax resulting in overactive bladder
Treating Overactive Bladder Naturally
Overactive bladder is quite common; however, it can be treated and corrected. Treatment options range from behavior modification, dietary changes, increased exercise, medications, and nerve stimulation. Let’s take a look at the top nine natural remedies for overactive bladder. If you are experiencing the symptoms of an overactive bladder, schedule a visit a Health Care Center
When you first begin experiencing the symptoms of an overactive bladder, you should keep a log of your activities, the number of times you urinate in a 24 hour period, the number of accidents you experience, when your accidents occur, and the amount of fluid you drink. In your journal, you should write down anything that occurred at the time of your accident – coughing, laughing, sneezing, etc.
2. Kegel exercises
If your urinary incontinence is due to weak pelvic muscles, Kegel exercises can help. These exercises focus on the same muscles that are used to stop the flow of urine. Kegel exercises are performed by flexing and holding your pelvic muscles for a count of five. Release and repeat. You should do ten to twenty Kegel exercises three to four times per day.
Magnesium is a mineral used to ensure proper nerve and muscle function. It can help to improve continence by reducing bladder spasms and thus allowing the bladder to completely empty. Including magnesium rich foods like potatoes, bananas, and corn can help with overactive bladder.
Biofeedback is a technique that helps you gain control of involuntary functions to help treat or prevent incontinence and other conditions. Biofeedback harnesses the power of your mind, teaching you how to become aware of what is going on inside the body, allowing you to gain control. Biofeedback uses several relaxation exercises including deep breathing, guided imagery, mindfulness meditation, and progressive relaxation.
5. Foods to avoid
There are foods that can irritate your bladder. Performing an elimination diet can help you determine if there is an offending food that is causing your overactive bladder. The following foods to avoid should be removed from your diet and then slowly added back one at a time every three days. If you notice that a particular type of food or drink worsens your symptoms, you should completely and permanently eliminate it from your diet.
- Alcoholic beverages
- Artificial sweeteners
- Cocoa and chocolate
- Citrus fruit
- Caffeinated drinks – coffee, soda, tea
- Spicy foods
- Tomatoes and tomato based foods
6. Weight loss
Excess weight can place pressure on your bladder, resulting in stress incontinence. Stress incontinence is defined as urine leaks that occur when pressure is placed on the bladder (lifting heavy objects, coughing, sneezing, and laughing). Research has shown that women who are overweight are at an increased risk of overactive bladder. Losing as little as ten percent of your body weight can improve the control of your bladder by 50 percent.
7. Bladder retraining
When you suffer from an overactive bladder, the bladder muscles begin reacting a certain way. Bladder retraining is designed to reboot these muscles. It is believed that if you allow the urge to pass, it will eventually help you hold your urine for longer periods of time. Bladder training takes about six to eight weeks. Follow these steps to retrain your bladder:
- Delay urination – When you feel the urge to go, try to wait five minutes before going. Slowly build up this time to train your bladder.
- Journal – Keep track of how often you urinate throughout the day.
- Kegels – Perform Kegels regularly to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles.
- Schedule bathroom breaks – Look at your journal and determine how often you typically go to the bathroom. Then, schedule ten minute delays and slowly work up to three hours or longer. On average, women should only need to go to the bathroom every three to six hours.
8. Improve your bowel habits
Many people do not realize that bowel habits and bladder habits go hand in hand. When one is not functioning properly, it can impact the other. Constipation can be uncomfortable. A full bowel can press on your bladder, worsening the incontinence and urgency experienced with an overactive bladder. You can improve your bowels by increasing the amount of soluble and insoluble fiber you consume.
If you suffer from an overactive bladder, acupuncture may be able to help. Acupuncture has been used for almost 2000 years to treat a variety of health issues, including urgency and incontinence. An acupuncturist will insert fine needles not sacral vertebra to improve the symptoms of overactive bladder, including stress and urge incontinence.
When you suffer from overactive bladder, you may not be able to hold your urine, you may experience leakage, and you may need to go to the bathroom more than usual, including during the night. Overactive bladder can affect all aspects of your life. You can begin to experience sleep difficulties, which can result in brain fog, concentration difficulties, and problems at school or work. You can reduce the effects of overactive bladder with the natural remedies described above.