Overactive bladder may be treated using pelvic floor physiotherapy techniques.
These pelvic floor physiotherapy techniques help you control sudden bladder urgency to reduce or avoid bladder leakage.
Overactive bladder treatment includes:
- Pelvic floor exercises
- Bladder control training
- Good bladder habits
- Avoiding bladder irritants
Overactive Bladder Treatment
1. Pelvic Floor Exercises
Pelvic floor exercises are one of the key management strategies for overactive bladder.
How pelvic floor exercises help with bladder urgency
Strong pelvic floor muscles can help you store more in your bladder before you feel the urge to empty.
Performing a strong pelvic floor contraction when you first feel the urge to empty can help you decrease your urge to give you sufficient time to get to the bathroom to prevent bladder leakage.
2. Bladder Control Training
Overactive bladder is often treated with bladder control training.
Bladder control training aims to improve bladder storage by holding on or deferring bladder emptying and storing progressively larger volumes in the bladder over time.
Bladder control training usually involves using urge control strategies and measuring how much your bladder empties and trying to increase the amount when you do empty.
3. Good Bladder Habits
Try to avoid emptying your bladder with small volumes of urine.
Most adults should aim to empty 250-500 mls (8.5 – 17 fluid ounces). This involves emptying the bladder around 6-8 times a day and once at night when drinking 8 glasses of fluid during the day.
Avoid emptying your bladder ‘just in case’. If you repeatedly empty your bladder before you really need to, you’ll reduce the volume your bladder can store. Going ‘just in case’ has the effect of decreasing how much your bladder can hold before is signals you to empty.
Good bladder habits for children
Sometimes we ask children whether they need to empty for our own convenience. Admittedly there’s nothing worse than being half way through the shopping to be told that a bathroom visit is needed.
Unfortunately caregivers including mothers and grandmothers sometimes unknowingly cause children to develop bladder problems and the habit of ‘going just in case’. When possible try to let children learn to feel the appropriate urge to empty without prompting them.
4. Limit Bladder Irritants
Some common bladder irritants are hidden in foods and drinks. The following list contains some of the more common bladder irritants that may or may not contribute to overactive bladder:
Potential Bladder Irritants include:
- Chocolate (life can be cruel)
- Artificial sweeteners (Nutrisweet, Aspartamine)
- Acidic fruits or juices
- Carbonated drinks
The best way to know if these are problems for you is to eliminate them for a few weeks and notice any changes in your bladder symptoms.
5. Avoid Caffeine
Caffeine is a major bladder irritant affecting many (not all) women. Caffeine can irritate cells lining the bladder wall and acts as a diuretic causing the bladder to fill quickly.
It can pay dividends to avoid that cup of strong coffee or black tea at breakfast especially if you’re going out.
Herbal teas are a good caffeine-free option for most women. Green tea also contains caffeine, if you’re worried about your bladder control you may benefit from choosing caffeine-free drinks.
6. Know your Bladder Triggers
A bladder trigger is something that causes your bladder to contract – often without warning.
Knowing your triggers can help you anticipate bladder urgency and plan accordingly. Different women have different triggers that set off their overactive bladder symptoms.
Typical bladder triggers include:
- Arriving home
- Key in the door
- Cold weather
- Running water
- Wet weather
Take the time to notice what triggers your bladder urgency. Knowing your triggers will help you anticipate and better manage them in the future using urge control strategies.
7. Avoid Constipation and Bloating
Constipation and bloating with wind or gas can make bladder urgency worse. A full bowel takes up space in the lower abdomen increasing pressure on the bladder.
8. Overactive Bladder Medications
When all else fails some ladies need to use medication to manage uncontrollable bladder urgency with overactive bladder.
These types of medications act by blocking the messages to your brain that cause your bladder muscle to contract giving you the sense of urgency.
Medications for treating bladder urgency can be used short-term to assist with bladder control training. Some ladies find that they need to take medication on and ongoing basis.
Medications for bladder urgency are prescription-based and they do have some unpleasant side effects (including dry mouth and constipation).
Where to Get Help for Overactive Bladder?
If you’re suffering from uncontrolled bladder urgency with overactive bladder you can access treatment from a trained Continence and Women’s Health Physiotherapist, Continence Nurse Adviser or Urologist.
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