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It’s a stall world after all. Do you spend an inordinate amount of time in the bathroom stall? Voiding disorders affect urine storage and release because both are controlled by the same muscle mechanisms. Overactive bladder (OAB) and other voiding disorders can keep you from doing the things you love because you constantly live in fear of being too far away from a restroom. Using the restroom so frequently can also be embarrassing. In general, voiding disorders can affect your overall quality of life, lead to embarrassment, and force you to live in a “stall world.”

What Is Overactive Bladder?

Overactive bladder (OAB) is considered a voiding disorder and is characterized by the bladder squeezing urine out at the wrong time. OAB is fairly common; one in six adults in the United States have symptoms of overactive bladder. Symptoms of overactive bladder include:

•Urinating eight or more times per day or two or more times per night
•Sudden, strong urges to urinate immediately
•Leaking urine after a sudden, strong urge to urinate
OAB may be caused by spasms in the bladder that give you that sudden urge to use the restroom. Your everyday routine could be contributing to these spasms without you even knowing it. Foods that are known bladder irritants, medicines such as diuretics, urinary tract infections, extra weight pushing on your bladder, and arthritis are all conditions that can affect your everyday voiding schedule. Even going to the restroom “just in case” trains your bladder to hold less urine and can cause you to go more frequently.

OAB Treatments

Many people believe that OAB symptoms are just a fact of life after a certain age and therefore do not mention it to their physician. OAB, however, can affect anyone at any age. The good news is that you don’t have to put up with these symptoms. OAB is a treatable medical condition that you and your physician can work through. Medicines that treat OAB are called antimuscarinics. These medicines effectively treat the symptoms of OAB by helping to calm the bladder muscle and reduce spasms. In addition to medications, everyday choices and changes to your routine can help you manage your
overactive bladder. Everyday choices that can help you treat your OAB symptoms include:

•Watch your fluid intake. Drinking too much or too little water can affect your bladder symptoms.
Most people should drink at least six 8-oz. cups of fluid every day—with half of those cups being water. If you are not drinking enough, constipation can also affect your OAB symptoms. Talk with your physician before you make any significant changes to your eating or drinking schedule.
•Work to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles (PFMs). The pelvic floor is a series of muscles that help you to hold urine in your bladder. Over time, age and childbirth can weaken these muscles. Your pelvic floor muscles help stop the flow of urine. Work to squeeze and hold them and then release them for an equal amount of time.
•Make dietary changes. There are some foods that irritate your bladder and can exacerbate the symptoms of OAB. Caffeine, citrus fruits and juices, artificial sweeteners, tomato-based foods, sodas, alcohol, and spicy foods all have the ability to irritate your bladder and force you to visit the “stall world” more frequently.
The most important thing to remember is that OAB does not have to run your life. Overactive bladder is a treatable medical condition that can be managed through medicine and lifestyle changes. You and your physician can discuss any more serious treatments if the lifestyle changes and medicines are not working for you.

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