Perhaps you've experienced the urge to go when getting groceries out of your trunk. As you lift the bags and fumble for your keys, the urge is so strong you aren't sure you can make it to the bathroom. The person with OAB likely won't make it to the bathroom.
But despite a barrage of advertisements for incontinence products, overactive bladder is not automatically a result of diabetes or aging. You can take measures to prevent this complication.
What is OAB?
Mayo Clinic explains that the bladder fills as kidneys produce urine, the fluid containing waste products from the body. OAB is an immediate, compelling urge to urinate when muscles in the bladder involuntarily contract.
A person with OAB may need to use the bathroom eight or more times during a 24-hour period, and increasingly, at night. Clinical data suggests this related condition, nocturia, is the reason many older adults fall while finding their bathroom in the dark (Never hurts to add a motion-sensor nightlight on the path to the bathroom!).
Nerve damage may lead to urinary frequency
Unfortunately for diabetics, OAB may result from nerve damage, if you develop diabetic neuropathy. This is why managing overall health is essential. It's not just about controlling the "sugar;" keeping all body systems in check can slow a progression of overactive bladder.
How can you stave off further complications?
Empty your bladder. A urologist I know says, "An empty bladder is a happy bladder." He suggests patients empty their bladder and then wait a few seconds and see if there is any residual urine.
Toilet train yourself. As with a toddler in potty-training, use the bathroom regularly, whether you need to go or not. Take a tip from this ex-road warrior, if you don't like the local service station, find a nice hotel which usually has a clean bathroom right near the registration desk. Apps can help find clean public restrooms.
Monitor your weight. As with many conditions, maintaining an optimal weight is critical. This article here on Diabetic Connect offers some helpful suggestions.
For women: Try Kegels. Many women are familiar with Kegels recommended by their ob/gyn after childbirth. These exercises strengthen the pelvic floor muscles which in turn strengthens bladder muscle. Don't have time? Try doing them at stoplights when the light is red.
Avoid these foods. Cleveland Clinic lists dozens of foods that may irritate the bladder. The obvious ones to avoid include caffeinated beverages and anything that is acidic, such as tomato juice. Might be a good idea to avoid that 20 ounce yellow caffeinated beverage after dinner. The same article, thankfully, lists alternatives to the no-no foods.
A urology study noted an increase in OAB for individuals over 50 who had type 2 diabetes for more than a decade. If you are urinating more than eight times a day—and especially at night—talk with your doctor. Treatment is available; better to start now, before you have a more serious problem.