Overactive bladder (OAB) affects over 13 million U.S. adults or one in five people over the age of 40. It occurs twice as often in women as it does in men. Out of embarrassment, women take over six years to seek treatment after their first episode. Luckily, you don’t need to wait that long for relief. Studies show changing daily habits can reduce overactive bladder symptoms. Start managing whatand how much you consume today to minimize your condition.
Know Your OAB Symptoms
Frequent urination, more than every three hours in a 24-hour period, defines OAB. Sudden, involuntary bladder muscle contractions can cause an urgent need to urinate that may result in urine leakage before you reach the bathroom. Common causes of inappropriate contractions include urinary tract infections, anxiety, diabetes, spinal cord injuries, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, stroke and dementia. Your doctor may prescribe a medication like Detrol LA (Tolterodine) to control bladder contractions.
Be a Beverage Snob
Staying hydrated is important to overall your health. You’ll survive OAB best if unflavored water is your favorite beverage. But quantity and timing are essential as well. Instead of guzzling the typical eight 8-ounce glasses per day, the American Urogynecologic Society suggests drinking water when you’re thirsty.To avoid putting stress on your bladder, sip small amounts throughout the day instead of chugging a large glass all at once. Consume less in the hours before bedtime to avoid overnight urges.
Restricting your overall fluid intake can help reduce urinary frequency, but drinking too little creates highly concentrated urine that can irritate your bladder and increase your urinary tract infection risk. Your urine should be pale yellow to almost colorless. See your doctor if you have pain or burning with urination or if your urine is cloudy, dark or smells strong.
Avoid or limit these beverages that increase OAB symptoms.
Acidic fruit juices. Orange, grapefruit and tomato juices are bladder irritants. Dilute them with water or switch to apple or pear juice that contains less acid.
Alcoholic drinks. These beverages are diuretics that stimulate your bladder.
Artificially sweetened beverages. Drinks with aspartame, saccharin and other artificial sweeteners may irritate your bladder.
Caffeinated drinks. Coffee, colas, energy drinks and teas are acidic diuretics that may irritate your bladder and exacerbate urinary urgency. Studies show that reducing caffeine intake to one cup per day may help reduce urge incontinence symptoms. To lower coffee’s caffeine and acid, drink a cup that’s half decaf and half Kava, an acid-neutralized instant coffee.
Carbonated beverages. The fizz factor of sodas and seltzers can irritate your bladder.
Become a Picky Eater
Research shows skipping or reducing your intake of these foods can be beneficial in preventing overactive bladder symptoms.
Artificially sweetened foods. Some pre-packaged foods contain aspartame, saccharin and other artificial sweeteners. Read labels and eat these foods in moderation.
Chocolate. Because of its caffeine and acid content, skip the jumbo candy bar. Stick to one square or a chocolate kiss instead.
Citrus fruits. Grapefruit, lemons, limes, oranges and tomatoes are among the chief offenders. Switch to less acidic fruits like pears and blueberries that also are high in disease-fighting antioxidants. If you like lemon in your water, limit it to one quick squeeze. Enjoy the hint of its fresh fruit flavor without excess acid.
Salty snacks. Nuts, chips and other salty finger foods can cause your body to retain water, which goes to your bladder eventually. They also make you thirstier, so you’re likely to drink more liquids. Switch to low- or no-salt snacks.
Spicy foods. Some people report chilies and wasabi irritate their bladders. Cut back on spices gradually to see if your symptoms improve.
Adopt an Acid Reduction Solution
If you can’t tell what’s aggravating your OAB, start a bladder diary. Keep a daily record of what and when you drink and eat with your resulting urination patterns and OAB symptoms. Or try an elimination diet. Remove one item such as tomatoes for a week. Note if your symptoms get better. Add small amounts gradually until your symptoms return. Then enjoy that food in moderation without aggravating your OAB. If your tolerance is too low, try Prelief. This over-the-counter dietary supplement takes the acid out of bladder-irritating beverages and foods.
Overcome Other Contributing Factors
Constipation: This condition increases pressure on your bladder, which may increase OAB symptoms. Increase your daily fiber amount or take MiraLAX. If constipation is a constant problem, contact your doctor.
Excess weight. Being overweight can put pressure on your bladder. Combine a healthy diet with exercise to lose weight.
Smoking: Now you have another reason to kick the habit. Nicotine can irritate your bladder muscle, causing contractions and urgency. Smoker’s cough may cause urinary leakage.
Stress: Counteract the adverse effects of stress with meditation, yoga, relaxing breathing techniques and soothing music.
Practice Kegel Exercises
Pelvic floor muscle therapy helps strengthen the muscles that stop your urine flow to decrease incontinence. Squeeze and hold your pelvic muscles for three seconds. Relax for three seconds. Do 10 sets of or Kegel exercises three times every day.
Take Control of Your OAB
If you’re experiencing frequent and urgent urination, don’t accept these inconveniences. Talk with your doctor about your symptoms, tests and treatment options. Take control of your diet, weight and health to minimize OAB symptoms.