The overactive bladderMonday, May 26, 2014
By KIMBERLEY HIBBERT
MANY persons find themselves going to the bathroom frequently to pass urine or having the sudden urge to urinate, an urge which may be difficult to stop.
According to the Mayo Clinic, this is a sign of an overactive bladder which may lead to the involuntary loss of urine (incontinence).
Symptoms of an overactive bladder occur when the muscles of the bladder begin to contract involuntarily, creating an urgent need to urinate. As your bladder fills, nerve signals alert your brain and eventually you will feel the need to urinate.
However, having an overactive bladder is not a natural occurrence of ageing, rather, several conditions may contribute to the issue. Such conditions include neurological disorders such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease, strokes and multiple sclerosis, poor kidney function or diabetes, medications such as diuretics that cause a rapid increase in urine production, pills that require you to ingest lots of fluids, acute urinary tract infections, bladder stones or tumours, an enlarged prostate, constipation, or excess consumption of caffeine or alcohol.
But urinary incontinence that result from situations like a stroke or Alzheimer's disease can be managed with fluid schedules, absorbent garments and bowel programmes.
The complications of an overactive bladder may lead to emotional distress, depression and/or sleep disturbances and interrupted sleep cycles depending on how serious the condition is. The Mayo Clinic says women may also have a disorder called mixed incontinence when both urge and stress (loss of urine through activities that place physical pressure on the bladder such as running or jumping) incontinence occur.
Before one can be treated for having an overactive bladder, a doctor will administer a few tests which may include a urodynamic test to assess the function of the bladder and its ability to empty steadily and completely. Usually a specialist such as a urologist would administer the test. Other tests include a physical exam focusing on the abdomen and genitals, taking a urine sample to test for infection, traces of blood or other abnormalities, and a neurological exam that may identify sensory problems or abnormal reflexes.
Treatment may include pelvic floor exercises, maintaining a healthy weight, timed fluid consumption, scheduled toilet trips, wearing absorbent pads or bladder training which is simply delaying voiding (urination) when you feel an urge to urinate. Other treatment includes surgery to increase bladder capacity and bladder removal, followed by the construction of a replacement or opening in the body (stoma) to attach a bag on the skin to collect urine.
Living with an overactive bladder can be problematic and may lead to feelings of embarrassment, but educating your family and friends about the condition and your experiences will help you to reduce the shame you may experience.