Overactive Bladder? How To Regain Control

Source: MyCentralJersey.com/Freehold Examiner

Your bladder is an organ made of muscle that expands and contracts to store and control urine. With a healthy bladder, nerve signals between the bladder and the brain alert the body when your bladder is full and signal that you need to urinate, usually giving you time to get to the bathroom.

When the nerve passages along the pathway from the bladder to the brain are damaged, it can cause bladder contractions (spasms) that cannot be consciously stopped and the need to go becomes urgent. Often this results in leakage — or even the whole bladder emptying — before you can get to bathroom.

If you have an overactive bladder, you may be reluctant to venture too far from a bathroom and avoid social and other activities for fear of embarrassing leakage. However, with the right treatment, overactive bladder can be controlled so it doesn’t control you.

Increasing age is one of the main risk factors for overactive bladder. Other factors include neurologic disorders, hormone changes, pelvic muscle weakness or spasms, poor kidney function, urinary tract infections, bladder obstruction, and medication side effects. Additionally, regularly occurring leakage associated with overactive bladder can lead to skin problems and infections.

Once diagnosed (you may be referred to a urogynecologist), overactive bladder can usually be controlled so you can get back to living your life. Treatments include:

Limiting foods and drinks such as coffee, tea, soda, alcohol, some citrus fruits, chocolate, tomato-based foods, and spicy foods.

Medications can help improve your bladder’s ability to store urine longer and reduce urine leakage.

Pelvic floor exercises specifically targeted at strengthening your pelvic floor can help relieve symptoms. The Center for Pelvic Wellness at Princeton Medical Center offers specialized physical therapy for the pelvic floor.

Bladder retraining exercises and techniques can help the bladder relearn how to store urine longer.

Botox injections into the bladder wall can help it relax and prevent contractions.

Tibial nerve stimulation involves nonsurically placing a thin needle under the skin of your ankle near the tibial nerve. It sends mild electrical pulses through the needle to the tibial nerve and then to other nerves that control bladder function.

Sacral nerve stimulation restores communication between the brain and bladder using a device that is surgically implanted in the lower back and acts like a pacemaker for the bladder. The device delivers gentle electrical pulses to the sacral nerves, which control the bladder, pelvic floor and bowel.

To find a urogynecologist affiliated with Penn Medicine Princeton Health, call 888.742.7496 or visit PrincetonHCS.org.

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