It’s a health condition that affects one in five women, but it’s something that very few people want to talk about, even with their doctor.
Overactive bladder -- characterized by an uncontrollable urge to go to the bathroom -- affects 34 million Americans. If left untreated, overactive bladder can affect every aspect of a person’s daily life, including work, sleep, sex, even hobbies. A trip to the store, vacations and fitness activities can cause tremendous anxiety if you suddenly have to find a bathroom, especially if you’re worried about having an accident when you don’t make it there on time.
The good news: It’s treatable. According to the National Association for Continence, approximately 80 percent of those affected by urinary incontinence can be cured or improved.
“While there is currently no ‘cure’ for chronic overactive bladder, there are therapies that can help people get their symptoms in check and live fuller lives,“ says Nancy Kolb, vice president of global marketing at Uroplasty, a medical device company that develops products to treat overactive bladder.
Here are five ways to manage overactive bladder symptoms, recommended by the American Urological Association:
1. Behavior modification: Making simple changes in your routine may help control milder cases of overactive bladder. First, modify fluid intake: Cut back on bladder irritants like coffee or cola, and keep an eye on beverage consumption. Then stick to a bathroom schedule, and head to the bathroom approximately every two to three hours – regardless of whether you feel like going – to keep the bladder empty and prevent problems.
2. Pelvic floor exercises: Commonly known as Kegel exercises, the contracting and relaxing of pelvic floor muscles are routinely recommended therapy for incontinence. The exercises strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, which aids in preventing urine leakage.
3. Drug therapy: There are two classes of medications approved for overactive bladder. One type relaxes the bladder while the other improves the bladder’s storage abilities. These actions work to help control frequency, urgency and urge urinary incontinence. For many patients, side effects from some of these drugs can cause other problems such as constipation and dry mouth that cause up to 80% of patients to stop taking these drugs within a year. Most consumers look to find other options when medications and other behavioral treatments are not solving their problem.
4. Non-surgical neuromodulation therapy: Falling somewhere between drugs and surgery is minimally invasive neuromodulation therapy. The Urgent® PC Neuromodulation System, delivered through a dozen 30-minute office-based treatments, uses a needle electrode placed near a nerve in the patient’s ankle and a hand-held device that sends mild electrical impulses to indirectly stimulate nerves in the pelvic area responsible for bladder control. Clinical trials and published studies have shown Urgent PC to be clinically effective in 60 percent to 80 percent of patients and that improvements can be sustained with a treatment about once a month. This therapy is usually offered through urologists, urogynecologists and ob/gyns. It can also be used in conjunction with medications and behavioral changes.
5. Surgery: There are surgical options, too. Sacral nerve stimulation (SNS), uses a device implanted in the patient’s buttock. The downside? Many surgical options come with the potential for significant complications and a high price-tag.
If you have overactive bladder, it is likely that there is a treatment option that could help you reclaim your life. Consult with your doctor to find the most effective solution. For more information about treatment options, visit www.uroplasty.com/patients/treatment.