TOO COMMON TO IGNORE
Bladder control problems are incredibly common. In fact, 1 in 6 adults has overactive bladder (OAB).1 That’s more than 37 million people in the U.S. alone.1,2 For the sake of comparison, that’s more than the number of people with vision problems or diabetes.1,2,3,4
WHAT IS OVERACTIVE BLADDER?
OAB is the name for a particular group of symptoms that include urgency (the “gotta go NOW” feeling), urinary frequency (going more than eight times a day), and urge incontinence (accidents or leaks). Basically, if your day revolves around going to the bathroom, you may have OAB.
WHAT IS URINARY RETENTION?
Urinary retention is another type of bladder control problem. It’s the inability to empty the bladder and takes two forms. One is obstructive, where something (such as kidney stones) prevents flow. The other is non-obstructive, which can be caused by weak bladder muscles or nerve problems.
WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT
The most important thing to know about bladder control problems is that they are common — but not normal. Often, these symptoms cause people to minimize their importance. It is natural (and totally understandable) to think it’s “just a part of getting older” or something you “have to learn to live with.”
But the opposite is true! Bladder control problems are usually treatable and almost always manageable.5 In other words, you can find relief.
STEP ONE: SPEAK UP
No matter what symptoms you’re experiencing, the first step is the same: talk to your doctor. It can be difficult to start the conversation. But all you really have to say is “I think I might have bladder control problems.” Your doctor will take it from there. (Remember, these conditions are common. You’re almost certainly not the only one asking your doctor about them.)
STEP TWO: LIFESTYLE CHANGES
In general, the next step is what’s known as “conservative treatments.” These are relatively simple lifestyle changes, like drinking less coffee, getting more exercise, doing Kegel exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, or using a strict bathroom schedule.
STEP THREE: MEDICATION
After lifestyle changes, your doctor may recommend daily oral medications. These can help manage your bladder control symptoms, but they may have unpleasant side effects, such as dry mouth, blurry vision, or high blood pressure (hypertension).
STEP FOUR: ADVANCED THERAPIES
If medications don’t provide enough relief, then your doctor may have you explore “advanced therapies.” Some are implantable devices that treat the nerves that control urination, almost like a pacemaker for your bladder. Others treat different nerves or involve injected medication.
THREE BIG TAKEAWAYS
Make an appointment
with a bladder control
Speak with a doctor in your community who can help you find the right treatment.
If you have symptoms,
you may have OAB,
retention, or another
Hear from people who have successfully reduced their bladder control symptoms.
Your condition can be
treated — so you can
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Stewart WF, Van Rooyen JB, Cundiff GW, et al. World J Urol. 2003;20(6):327-336.
United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2011). World Population Prospects: The 2010 Revision, CD-ROM Edition.
National Center for Health Statistics, National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), http://www.cdc.gov/visionhealth/basic_information/vision_loss_burden.htm. Accessed January 27, 2017.
National diabetes statistics, 2011. National Diabetes Information Clearing house website. http://www.diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/dm/pubs/statistics/#fast. Accessed January 27, 2017.
Gormley EA, Lightner DJ, Faraday M, et al. Diagnosis and treatment of overactive bladder (non-neurogenic) in adults: AUA/SUFU guideline amendment. J Urol. 2015 May;193(5):1572-80.
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