Do you find yourself going to the restroom frequently throughout the day or waking up multiple times a night to urinate? Do you experience sudden urges to urinate, sometimes accompanied by urine leakage episodes?
If your answer to either of these questions is yes, you may be suffering from overactive bladder (OAB). But don't worry, you are not alone. OAB is a common condition that affects both men and women, affecting about 1 in 3 people in the United States over the age of 40.1
In general, OAB is a problem that affects the bladder’s ability to hold urine. As a healthy bladder is filled with urine, it stretches and expands to accommodate the increased volume. Specialized nerves in the bladder lining can then sense when the bladder is full and signal to the brain that it is time to empty. In the normal situation, you are able to voluntarily control when to empty, that is, you are able to hold it until you get to the bathroom. For people with OAB, however, there is thought to be abnormal communication between the brain and the bladder such that they may experience a strong, sudden urge to urinate even when the bladder volume is low. This often leads to frequent urination and sometimes these uncontrollable urges to urinate can result in involuntary urine leakage (incontinence).
OAB can significantly disrupt your quality of life and affect your sleep. Suffering from embarrassing leaks or constantly having to schedule your day around proximity to a restroom can cause undue stress and anxiety. Fortunately, you do not have to live with this condition. While the specific cause of OAB is unknown, several treatment options exist to help manage your OAB symptoms.
The OAB Patient Care Pathway:
There are essentially three levels of treatment along the OAB patient care pathway. The pathway begins with conservative options and moves on to more advanced therapies. Behavioral interventions are recommended as the first level of treatment, and these can include exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, maintaining a healthy body weight, modification to your food and fluid intake, and bladder training.
If behavioral changes are unable to provide symptom relief, you may need to move to the next level of treatment which are medications. The goal of these medications is to help relax your bladder so you have more control and go less often. If symptom relief is still not achieved or you experience unwanted side effects from the medications, third-line advanced therapies may be the solution.
Advanced therapies include Sacral Neuromodulation, Botox®*, and Percutaneous Tibial Nerve Stimulation (PTNS). Sacral Neuromodulation is a clinically proven long-term therapy that helps restore normal communication between the brain and the bladder which may reduce or eliminate OAB symptoms.
If you think you may be suffering from OAB, talk to your doctor about your symptoms. Together, you can find the right treatment solution to regain control.
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1 Coyne KS, et al. The prevalence of lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) in the USA, the UK and Sweden: results from the Epidemiology of LUTS (EpiLUTS) study. BJUI International. 2009;(104): 352-360. US Census Reporter/https://censusreporter.org/profiles/01000us-united-states.
*BOTOX® is a trademark of Allergan, Inc.