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overactive bladder

Overactive Bladder

Overactive bladder, also known as OAB, is a condition causing the urge to urinate that is difficult to control. Leading to frequent trips to the restroom, during the day and at night, (a condition called Nocturia.) Overactive bladder also contributes to incontinence and disturbs many aspects of daily life.

Is Overactive Bladder Rare?

No. Overactive bladder is a common condition, particularly in people over age 65. It is thought to affect over 30 million Americans. The number of cases is probably much higher as many patients fail to report the condition to medical professionals, due to embarrassment, or because they don’t recognize OAB as a treatable condition.


While OAB is common, it doesn’t mean you have to let it disrupt your life. You should speak to a medical provider if you have the following symptoms:

  • Frequent Urination
  • Constant feeling that you need to urinate
  • Urge Incontinence – a sudden uncontrollable urge to urinate which may include urine leakage
  • Nocturia – having to urinate at least twice during the night
  • Urinary urgency

Causes of OAB

OAB is not a natural process of aging, it may be caused by:

  • Medications, alcohol and caffeine which affect the nerve connections to the brain affecting the signalling of bladder fullness.
  • Trauma including childbirth and pregnancy weakens and stretches the muscles of the pelvic floor.
  • Urinary tract infections irritate the bladder and cause it to contract.
  • Neurological disorders
  • Poor kidney function
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity causes extra pressure on the bladder
  • Bladder Cancer
  • Enlarged Prostate
  • Hormonal changes after menopause. During menopause, the amount of estrogen in your body decreases leading to loss of muscle strength, including your pelvic floor muscles.

Diagnosing Overactive Bladder

Speak to your medical provider about your concerns, a thorough workup will include a detailed medical history, a physical examination, possible testing may include urinalysis, ultrasound, cystoscopy, CT scan. Be prepared to answer the following questions:

  • How long you have had symptoms.
  • Family history of overactive bladder
  • All medications and supplements
  • how much and when are you drinking fluid
  • and what type of fluid are you drinking during the day

Natural Treatment for OAB

Treating overactive bladder naturally is possible, a holistic doctor attempts to get to the root cause of your condition. Keeping a diary for a few days with the amount of fluid you drink, food you eat and the number of times you urinate, and what necessitated the trip to the bathroom, like laughing, sneezing or coughing, is a very helpful tool for treatment.

Watching your fluid intake and diet is also essential. You may want to eliminate the following items that may exacerbate the problem:

  • tea and coffee
  • alcohol
  • soft drinks especially those containing caffeine
  • chocolate
  • tomatoes and tomato based products
  • food and drinks containing artificial sweeteners

Exercise Options for Overactive Bladder

Exercises that focus on the pelvic floor include Kegel exercise, bladder training, biofeedback, and the use of vaginal cones. The guidance of a specialized pelvic floor physical therapist is recommended.

Supplements and Herbal Remedies

There are supplements and herbs that may help with overactive bladder, however it is important to speak to a medical professional before taking supplements or herbs. Keep in mind the different root causes of this condition will make a difference in the appropriate remedy.

Some whole food sources may help, pumpkin seeds, which contain anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids may improve urinary function. Eating high fiber foods like vegetables, beans, and whole grains in helps to relieve constipation, thereby easing OAB symptoms.

Having an overactive bladder is not a condition you have to live with. With proper treatment, diet and lifestyle changes you can take control of this condition.

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Author Info

Arthur Cushing