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How do you treat overactive bladder syndrome?

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Having an overactive bladder can be a hassle. Thankfully there are many ways to treat this condition! Some treatments are simple behavioural and lifestyle changes that you can easily integrate into your daily routine (like kegel exercises) to see a huge impact. If you are struggling with an overactive bladder, it can be a good idea to seek help from your GP, who will be able to recommend the best treatment option for you.


Kegel exercises for overactive bladders

Overactive bladder syndrome means more frequent trips to the bathroom accompanied by a strong desire that cannot easily be ignored, leading to urge incontinence in some. One way to reduce the frequency and severity of symptoms is to aim to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles with kegel exercises. You can learn how to do kegel exercises with the help of our article, however you should always speak to your GP for professional advice and guidance.

Kegel exercises specifically to help overactive bladder may involve setting an “urge schedule” and forcing your bladder to wait for a little while when you get the urge to urinate. This may sound like a tall order at first, but it’s all about increasing your tolerance, little by little. Even if you can only manage a minute at first, eventually you’ll train your bladder to be able to hold urine for hours!


Dietary and lifestyle changes for overactive bladders

For people struggling with bladder control on a daily basis, sometimes changes to what you eat and drink can bring some relief. Certain ingredients can irritate the bladder and should therefore be avoided – like artificial sweeteners, and acidic fruits like pineapples, citrus fruits and tomatoes. You may also want to avoid diuretics like alcohol, and drinks containing caffeine (coffee, tea and cola) as they encourage your kidneys to produce more urine. Eating healthily and exercising can also help to lessen the effects of overactive bladder syndrome. Losing just 8% of your body weight can reduce incontinence episodes by over 25%1.

You may also want to consider how much water you drink. Of course, drinking high volumes of water will contribute to your need to go to the toilet frequently. On the opposite end of the spectrum, not drinking enough water can lead to feeling constipated and having concentrated urine which irritates the bladder even further! If in doubt, the NHS advises that 6-8 glasses of fluids a day is a good amount2!

It can also be useful to think about the timing of your fluid intake. As people age, production of a hormone that influences the kidneys’ activity, ADH, changes. Healthcare practitioners will often recommend a patient keeps a bladder diary and they are wanting to review not only what's consumed but when. Cutting out fluids in the evening or close to bed time can reduce or even eliminate waking up to go to the toilet, also known as nocturia.


When should I visit my GP for overactive bladder?

Everyone has days where they feel like they’re never off the toilet! But if your trips to the loo are getting in the way of your social, home and professional life for a long period of time, it’s probably a good idea to make an appointment with a healthcare professional. Earlier treatment is more effective, so seek advice and start a bladder diary as soon as you can.

If you don’t experience positive results from kegel exercises and lifestyle changes, there are other options. Your GP can prescribe drugs that affect how your bladder senses fullness and in turn reduce the sensation of urgency as it fills with urine.
Thankfully, most instances of overactive bladder syndrome can often be managed with a combination of healthy lifestyle changes, medical treatments and the right advice.

To help stop overactive bladder and urge incontinence getting in the way of your life, TENA can help to support you through our helpful guides and range of incontinence products.