Jewels Doskicz is a registered nurse, freelance writer, patient advocate, health coach, and long-distance cyclist. Jewels is the moderator of Diabetic Connect’s weekly #DCDE Twitter chat, and she 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 be helpful with this condition, and possibly ease the burden of living every day with OAB.
Even though OAB is incredibly common, many find themselves isolated or too embarrassed to address their bladder issues and end up shouldering their frustrations on their own. Quietly tucking away the issues into daily life may mean missed connections and opportunities to improve your quality of life.
If you're suffering from symptoms, first consult a healthcare practitioner to rule out treatable causes, such as a urinary tract infection. Simple changes and observations may begin in the privacy of your own home where one can really see how successful adaptations may be.
Before resorting to the bigger guns, such as medication and surgery, these ideas are worth a whirl. A surprise to some — diet, fluids, weight, smoking, and bowel regularity can all impact OAB. Both behavioral changes and strengthening the bladder are important and may get this pesky condition to ease up.
According to a recent study, the following tips may help you reach your goals with OAB.
1. Begin recording 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 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. Recording 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, 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 with symptoms of OAB. Weight management may relieve symptoms of OAB.
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.