Treatments for Overactive Bladder
Because there is no one-size-fits-all treatment, your physician may recommend a single treatment or even two or more at the same time. Depending on your individual needs, your doctor may also use a combination of lifestyle changes and medication therapy, which often results in greater success for symptom management. Surgical options may also be discussed for treating more advanced cases of OAB.
First Line Therapies
Your doctor may suggest physical therapy or making changes to your everyday lifestyle as the first line of treatment for your OAB symptoms. While this type of behavior therapy may not alleviate all of your OAB symptoms, it can minimize them.
The goal of physical therapy for treating OAB symptoms is to decrease urinary urgency and improve the coordination between the bladder and pelvic floor muscles for improved urinary control. Depending on your diagnosis and symptoms, the physical therapist will determine which of the following is the best course of action:
- Pelvic floor muscle exercises/biofeedback – Pelvic floor exercises can help prevent urine leakage by strengthening the pelvic floor and sphincter muscles. Biofeedback can help determine if you are exercising the right pelvic muscles in the correct way.
- Bladder training or delayed voiding – This involves controlling the urge to urinate by waiting a few extra minutes after you feel the urge at first, and then gradually increasing the time between bathroom visits.
- Timed urination – You follow a set schedule for going to the bathroom. Instead of going when you feel the urge, you train yourself, and your bladder, to go at the scheduled time of day.
- Behavior modification – Going to the bathroom frequently, and not just when the “gotta go” feeling strikes, is important for retraining your bladder.
- Fluid and diet management – Limit or eliminate foods and drinks that may irritate the bladder such as caffeine, artificial sweeteners, chocolate, alcohol, certain sodas, citrus, and acidic and spicy foods.
- Keep a bladder diary – Keep track of when and how often you go to the bathroom to urinate to help your doctor better understand your OAB symptoms.
- Absorbent incontinence pads – Absorbent pads made specifically for urinary incontinence can protect your clothing and keep you dry, helping you avoid embarrassing incidents if you do experience incontinence during social situations or activities.