Non-Medication Strategies for Managing Overactive Bladder


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Non-Medication Strategies for Managing Overactive Bladder

Have You Tried Natural Treatment for Overactive Bladder?

Overactive bladder (OAB) can be frustrating. OAB sufferers always need to be a short distance from a bathroom and often have the nearest one mapped out, wherever they are.

While there are medications that may help, there are also a variety of non-medication strategies that are helpful. Continue reading to learn tactics for decreasing that annoying urge to run to the nearest bathroom.

Proper Hydration

Often, OAB sufferers think that dehydrating themselves will decrease their OAB symptoms. It may sound counterintuitive, but staying properly hydrated (overactive bladder dehydration and overhydration are both issues) can decrease symptoms.

Decreasing fluid intake can cause a laundry list of problems, such as dehydration, constipation, and kidney stones; all the above can irritate the bladder and worsen symptoms.

Overhydration will fill the bladder too much, exacerbating OAB symptoms. So, what’s the perfect balance?

You may have heard the old adage that we should be drinking eight glasses of water each day. According to the American Urogynecologic Society, this is not recommended for OAB sufferers — people with OAB are recommended to drink when thirsty

Foods to Avoid

Water is hydrating, but not all beverages have the same effect on your bladder. In fact, some of our favorite beverages — alcohol and coffee — are diuretics. This means that consuming these beverages increases the urge to urinate due to the fact that more urine is produced.

Alcohol and coffee can actually irritate the bladder as well. It is recommended to limit alcohol to no more than one drink per day if you have OAB.

Slowly decreasing coffee intake due to withdrawal is recommended, and eventually switch to decaf. Be aware that “decaf” coffee may still contain small amounts of caffeine — not enough to cause problems for the average person, but may still cause problems for the OAB sufferer.

Soda can be especially harmful. Regular soda that is caffeinated will have a similar effect as alcohol and coffee, in addition to carbonation that may exacerbate OAB symptoms.

Sugary foods, including chocolate and foods sweetened with artificial sweeteners, may also irritate the bladder, exacerbating OAB symptoms. Evidence points to decreasing these beverages as opposed to cutting them out completely.

Spicy foods and citrus fruits may also irritate the bladder. Spicy foods are known to be an irritant primarily for women with OAB.

Citrus fruits include common fruits you may think of, but also other acidic fruits such as tomatoes and cranberry juice. Cranberry juice can be particularly confusing to OAB sufferers, as it has been linked to controlling UTI symptoms. However, the acidity worsens OAB symptoms.

Bladder Training

According to Mayo Clinic, a bladder training program may help to adjust habits. This involves going to the bathroom on a set schedule, rather than relying on “urges” that may send you to the bathroom even when you do not have to go.

The steps involved in a bladder training program include:

  1. Keep a diary. For a few days, write down when you urinate. This can help to create a bladder training schedule.
  2. Assess your diary. Look at your bladder diary. Assess the amount of time in between voids. Then, increase the amount of time by 15 minutes.
  3. Stick to the schedule. Stick to the routine that you’ve set. Use the restroom immediately when waking, then stick to the schedule. If you feel like you will have an accident, use the restroom but return to the schedule after.
  4. Use relaxation techniques. When you feel like you’ve got to go and it isn’t time, test out different relaxation techniques, such as breathing exercises. These not only will relax you, but distract you.
  5. Increase time between intervals. Increase the time between voids. Perhaps increase by 15 minutes every week until you reach an interval of two to four hours.

Kegel Exercises

Kegel exercises help to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. Performing these exercises can not only increase the strength of the pelvic floor, but also promote urinary sphincter control because the pelvic floor muscles are used to open and close the urethra. They also support the bladder during everyday activities.

Kegel exercises can be performed easily and discreetly. To do them, simply squeeze the pelvic floor muscles tightly, as if trying to control your stream of urine. Physicians recommend performing these exercises three to four times per day.

The good news is you can do them anywhere and no one will know you are doing them!

Quit Smoking

As if you needed another reason to quit smoking — smokers are more likely than non-smokers to have bladder control issues; this may be due in part to the chronic cough that many smokers have. This chronic cough will put pressure on the bladder repeatedly.

Having an overactive bladder can be frustrating and embarrassing — but it does not have to control your life!

Resources

CNN (10 Things That Can Make Incontinence Worse)

Mayo Clinic (Bladder Control Problems in Women: Lifestyle Strategies for Relief)

WebMD (Food and Drink to Tame an Overactive Bladder)

Krystina OstermeyerKrystina Ostermeyer

Krysti is a practicing RN who also enjoys writing about health and wellness. She has a varied nursing background and is currently working as a diabetes educator. She lives in a small town with her husband and two-year-old son.

Dec 14, 2016
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