Well my overactive bladder and I have been “outed” in a very public manner ….the largest
Sunday newspaper in the state where I live ! Whilst many of my lovely ladies whom I had
been treating were happy to speak of their journey and recovery, understandably they were not keen to have their photo in the paper so I told the author, Tatyana that if she was stuck I would share my story – worth it if it makes just one person seek the help they need. There is a link to the story in The Sunday Mail at the end of this article but in short it highlights the symptoms of an overactive bladder (OAB) or urgency which means your bladder wants to empty before it really should , it contracts as if you are on the loo and gives you the “urge” or the “oh-oh’s” and you rush off to the loo and do the “wee dance” as I call it , when you get there because you wiggle around and can’t get your pants down quick enough and this the point where you often leak. Many people ( men suffer from this too) will actually leak when the urge first hits – a sudden unexpected squeeze from the bladder, too strong for the sphincter and the pelvic floor muscles don’t respond quickly enough to help it out. This prompts you to run to the loo , the anxiety about getting there can cause the bladder to continue trying to empty . For others, they can then hold on until they get to the loo but end up falling into the pattern of going frequently in an effort to avoid the urgency….well if there is nothing in my bladder , it won’t happen….the other common , but dangerous ‘solution’ is the reasoning “well if I drink less , I will have less to leak” ..but this ,in fact, has the opposite effect as your urine becomes more concentrated and irritates your bladder further – and an irritated bladder wants to empty .
There can be many causes of urgency and it is very important that you first visit your doctor for a check-up to rule out any of the medical reasons such as a bladder infection, prostate problems, or gynaecological causes….all of which are treatable by the way so don’t put it off. In the vast majority it is just a bladder behaving badly – just like a toddler throwing a tantrum wanting the lollies at the check-out and you give in to avoid a scene ….you give in to your bladder, it wins, next time the same thing happens.
Treatment for this condition, once any medical causes are ruled out or treated , can be provided by a Women’s or Men’s Health Physiotherapist or a Continence Nurse – see below for links to finding qualified practitioners near you.
Treatment will generally involve a history, doing a bladder diary to see just how your bladder is behaving, learning urge control techniques , strengthening your pelvic floor, reducing the bladder irritants in your life …yes the coffee has to go, as does alcohol and you will generally have to drink more water . Often things will become triggers- like putting the key in the front door , or turning on the tap – and these need to be retrained too.
The good news is , it is a very treatable condition and once you are back in control you can
often reintroduce some caffeine and alcohol (in moderation !!)
My personal journey ( my 3 year old in the article who triggered me to seek help myself
and stop pretending I didn’t have a problem is now 16 ) is an ongoing one. Whilst I am recovered and lead a normal life , I monitor my caffeine intake in particular as I know if I have too much the old feeling of my bladder playing up will return…..and ,of course, I practise what I preach andlook after my bladder and pelvic floor.
“BUT…” I can hear you say , I really do need to go, I am busting . Well the answer to that is , you THINK you are busting because your bladder is telling you lies – it is known as an unreliable witness in the continence world – don’t always believe what it is telling you. You need treatment to retrain the bladder to behave properly again. Believe me I know – as the old saying goes ….been there , done that and even had an article written about it!!
Here are the links I spoke of …and please if you have a problem , seek help today , make sure you are correctly diagnosed before trying to retrain the problem bladder – self diagnosis is never a healthy thing .