Q: What is overactive bladder (OAB)?
A: Overactive bladder (OAB) is the name of a group of urinary symptoms. The most common symptom of OAB is the “gotta go” feeling, or the frequent and/or sudden urge to urinate that you cannot control. You may leak urine when you experience this urge. Having to urinate often during the night is another common symptom of OAB.
Q: Talking to a doctor about my bladder control issue is embarrassing - who can I turn to about this problem?
A: Many women feel embarrased by bladder control issues, but rest assured, the incontinence specialists at Chesapeake Urology understand what you are going through and are here to help. Chesapeake Urology's dedicated patient navigator is also available to help women with bladder control problems understand their options when it comes to success treatment. OAB is common in women and many women experience OAB at some point in their life. You are not alone. In fact, some 30+ million Americans have OAB.
Q: Who is at risk for OAB?
A: There are a number of risk factors or common causes of OAB, including:
- Increasing age
- Back issues/surgery
- Obesity and being overweight
- Neurological conditions that affect the brain and spine including diabetes, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, cerebral palsy and spinal cord injury
- Bladder tumors, stones and infections
- Certain medications such as diuretics, sedatives and antidepressants
- Certain foods such as caffeine, alcohol and spicy foods worsen symptoms
Q: What is the main symptom of OAB?
A: The major symptom of OAB is the strong and sudden urge to urinate that you can’t control. This “gotta go” feeling has many women running for the bathroom multiple times per day. This urge may be accompanied by urine leakage in some cases.
Q: How will my doctor diagnose OAB?
A: There are a number of ways your doctor can diagnose OAB. Your doctor initially may order a urinalysis as well as ask you to keep a bladder diary. Chesapeake
Urology’s urodynamics services are also a benefit to many patients. Urodynamics refers to a series of diagnostic tests and studies that help your doctor determine the cause of your urinary incontinence and the best course of treatment.
Q: What are the treatment options for OAB?
A: There are a number of treatments that can help you manage the symptoms of OAB and provide you with freedom from your urinary urges. Your urologist may prescribe one treatment alone or combine treatments for effective management of your OAB. These treatments may include:
- Physical therapy: A physical therapist works with you on performing pelvic floor exercises, behavior modification and other techniques to improve bladder and pelvic floor muscle coordination
- Lifestyle changes: Modifications to what you eat and drink, keeping a daily bladder diary or even using absorbent pads may be recommended
- Medication therapy: Your doctor may prescribe a type of drug that relaxes your bladder muscles to stop contractions at the wrong times to minimize your urge symptoms
- Bladder injections: In some severe cases of OAB, injecting Botox into the bladder has been found to be effective in improving symptoms
- Neuromodulation therapy: Works by addressing the communication lapse between your brain and the nerves that control your bladder. This therapy utilizes neuromodulation devices which stimulate the nerves in your pelvis and bladder to control bladder function. This treatment may be prescribed when other treatment options have failed
- Percutaneous Tibial Nerve Stimulation (PTNS): Another type of neuromodulation therapy that targets the percutaneous tibial nerve. Small electrodes are inserted into the ankle. The electrical impulses in the tibial nerve can help control symptoms of urinary urgency
Q: I think I have OAB - who should I call for help?
A: If you are experiencing any urinary incontinence symptoms that are getting in the way of living your best life, it’s important to be checked by a doctor who specializes in urinary incontinence and understands what you are going through and how to treat you.