What is an Overactive Bladder Syndrome?
Overactive Bladder (OAB) is a sudden and compelling need to relieve the bladder which is difficult to put off, often associated with the frequent need to go to the toilet during the night or the day, and may result in incontinence.
People experiencing these symptoms should not feel ashamed or embarrassed to talk to their doctor, because help is available. OAB can have a huge emotional and physical impact on people.
How common is Overactive Bladder Syndrome?
About 1 in 6 adults experience some symptoms of an overactive bladder. About 1 in 3 people with an overactive bladder have episodes of urge incontinence.
What causes overactive bladder syndrome?
Normally, the bladder muscle stay relaxed as the bladder gradually fills up. However, in people with an overactive bladder, the bladder muscle seems to give wrong messages to the brain. The bladder may feel fuller than it actually is. The bladder contracts too early when it is not very full, and not when you want it to.
What are the symptoms of Overactive Bladder?
Untimely contractions lead to symptoms like Urgency where you cannot wait to go to urinate, increased frequency more than 7-8 times a day, Night time frequency (nocturia) of more than 1-2 times every night interfering with your sleep and Urinary leakage mainly happening on the way to the toilet or without any warning. You may pass quite small volumes of urine.
How can you help your symptoms?
Try these top tips to help you control your symptoms:
- Make this as easy as possible to go to Toilet when needed.
- Go to the toilet only when you need to. If you go to the toilet too often the bladder becomes used to holding less urine which causes worsening of symptoms.
- Drink normal quantities of fluids. This is usually about two litres of fluid per day - about 6-8 cups of fluid and more in hot climate.
- Avoid all Caffeine intake and fizzy drinks. In some people, alcohol may make symptoms worse.
- You may have weak pelvic floor muscles so ask your doctor or nurse about exercises you can do to strengthen them.
- Make sure you know where the toilets are when you are out and about.
- Try not to use toilet everytime when you go bursted.
Bladder training (sometimes called bladder drill)
Bladder training is a very simple but effective treatment. It works in up to half of cases and makes it important part of the treatment. The aim is to slowly stretch the bladder so that it can hold larger and larger volumes of urine. For more information see the “Bladder Drill” section on this website.
If there is not enough improvement with bladder training alone, medicines also help. There are number of medicines available. They work by blocking certain nerve impulses to the bladder, which relaxes the bladder muscle and so increases the bladder capacity. Medication improves symptoms in some cases, but not all. The amount of improvement varies from person to person. Click here to know about medication.
Posterior Tibial Nerve Stimulation
This treatment involves inserting a very fine needle (like acupuncture) into a specific point near the ankle. A specific kind of electrical impulse is delivered to the patient through the lead set. The electrical impulses travel along the tibial nerve to the nerves in the spine that control pelvic floor function. For more information on this treatment please look at the “Tibial nerve stimulation” section on this website.
Surgery is used in very limited cases of overactive bladder where symptoms have not responded to above mentioned treatments and symptoms are too bothersome.
Treatment with botulinum toxin A
This is an alternative treatment to surgery if other treatments including bladder training and medication have not helped your symptoms. It has not been licensed (approved) for the treatment of overactive bladder syndrome in the UK. Make sure that you discuss this procedure fully with your doctor and understand all of its risks and benefits before you go ahead with it. Click below to know more about this treatment.
Further help and information
www.bladderproblem.co.uk provides accessible information on how you can help to manage bladder conditions.
If you have any further questions, to make an appointment please contact.