Do you feel an urgency to urinate when the bladder is filled? Are you getting up multiple times at night for urination? Are you unable to resist urination if the restroom is occupied? Do you leak while sneezing or laughing? If the answer to any of these questions is a YES, it can be one of the symptoms of overactive bladder syndrome.
Overactive bladder syndrome or OAB is a syndrome, which is marked by urinary urgency and increased frequency, nocturia (frequent night time urination) and urinary incontinence.
Causes of overactive bladder syndrome
The syndrome can occur because of multiple reasons:
1. Weakness of pelvic floor muscles weakness
The pelvic floor or pelvic diaphragm is a group of muscles that span between the pubic bone in the front to the tailbone at the back. During pregnancy and post-delivery, the pelvic floor muscles lose the strength which can lead to OAB syndrome.
2. Neurological reasons
Various neurological disorders may influence the nerves and thus, the sensations are not accurate, leading to wrong impulses and signals being sent to the brain and bladder.
3. Alcohol and caffeine intake
People who consume high levels of alcohol and caffeine rich beverages like coffee and tea, are more prone to develop OAB.
4. Other lifestyle issues
Women are more prone to develop OAB post menopause. People who have higher BMI are also likely to develop OAB as excess weight puts extra pressure on the bladder.
Signs and Symptoms
1. Urinary urgency: Not able to resist the urination when in need.
2. Urge incontinence: It is marked by having a leakage in case of urine urgency.
3. Nocturia: It is characterized by getting up multiple times at night for urination.
4. Frequency of urination: It is marked by the number of times a person needs to urinate. With OAB, the frequency is higher.
The treatment for this syndrome must be done under an obstetrician-gynecologist physiotherapist and it involves making easy lifestyle changes, bladder training, and training of the pelvic floor muscles.
Here’s how you can combat overactive bladder syndrome:
1. Lifestyle changes
It involves maintaining a healthy diet, limiting the amount of alcohol and caffeine rich products, reducing weight and sustaining a healthy BMI.
Also, read: Love to travel? You may be exposed to these urinary bladder concerns
2. Bladder retraining
This is a combination of several behavioral changes that a person needs to incorporate till the condition is completely treated. If a person is suffering from OAB, over time, the bladder is conditioned, so one may have to retrain it. Maintaining a bladder diary with mention of the frequency, time, and events that lead to urine urgency is important.
3. Strengthening pelvic floor muscles
Kegels are the first exercises that are used to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. To perform kegels, it is important to understand how to find pelvic floor muscles. For identification, while urinating, stop the flow midstream, hold for 3 seconds, relax and allow the flow to continue. Repeat a few times to understand the right muscle, and squeeze /tighten then relax. Remember this is just a test or a way for understanding pelvic floor muscles.
Kegels can be done in any position, standing/sitting/lying down, anytime without anyone knowing about it. One just needs to contract/tighten vaginal muscles and relax as if trying to stop urine, must be done with an empty /relaxed bladder .Breathing must not be affected while doing so. If done correctly, meaning from back to front, a gentle contraction is felt in the lower abdominal muscle. It is also equally important to relax /lengthen /release the pelvic floor muscle.
To say the least, overactive bladder is a symptoms based syndrome, which should be treated as soon as it is identified, in order to avoid being accustomed to the abnormal pattern.