Jewels Doskicz is a registered nurse, freelance writer, patient advocate, health coach, and long-distance cyclist. Jewels and her daughter both live healthfully with type 1 diabetes.
Overactive bladder—or OAB—can throw a wrench into daily living. Luckily, there are lifestyle tips and modifications that may help you ease the burden of living with OAB.
Even though OAB is incredibly common, many feel isolated or too embarrassed to address their bladder issues and end up shouldering their frustrations on their own. Quietly keeping the issues out of sight may mean missing social connections and opportunities to improve your quality of life.
If you're suffering from OAB symptoms, first consult a healthcare practitioner to rule out treatable causes, such as a urinary tract infection. Simple changes may begin in the privacy of your own home where you can really see how successful adaptations may be.
Many people are surprised to learn that diet, fluid consumption, weight, smoking, and bowel regularity can all impact OAB. If they're affecting you, both behavioral changes and strengthening the bladder are important and may help this pesky condition to ease up. Before resorting to medication and surgery, ask your healthcare provider about the following tips that a recent study recommends:
1. Keep a bladder diary. This can be a very insightful personal tool to help your practitioner get to the bottom of your complaints. This can be as simple or complex as you like, but shoot for a few days at a minimum to see patterns unfold.
2. The bladder should be emptied every three to four hours. (Good luck with this if you're a nurse like me!) But seriously, failing to do so can stretch the bladder, which can lead to overactive bladder issues. Timing your bathroom breaks may help you reestablish a normal routine.
3. Avoid diet soda. Dietary irritants such as caffeine, carbonated beverages and artificial sweeteners may be enough to send OAB into a serious tailspin for some people. Recording your diet in the bladder diary may help you make connections between the two if they exist.
4. Drink enough water — but not too much. On average, six 8-ounce glasses of water in a day is a satisfactory amount to consume. This, of course, is altered with output, environment, diet, etc. How much are you drinking on an average day?
5. Don't drink before bedtime. Decreasing fluid intake three to four hours prior to bedtime is a smart idea to reduce bathroom trips during the night.
6. Get regular. Constipation can have a remarkable impact on bladder functioning. If you have constipation, seeing a practitioner is vital to get it under control without using addictive laxatives. A healthy bowel can equal a healthy bladder.
7. Lose weight if you need to. Obesity creates increased intra-abdominal and pelvic floor pressure that can contribute to symptoms of OAB. Weight management may bring relief.
8. Stop smoking. Smoking and the resulting chronic cough can create bladder issues due to increased intra-abdominal pressure. A healthcare practitioner can help sort through your symptoms and get you rolling with a smoking cessation program.