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Controlling an Overactive Bladder

Overactive Bladder

Overactive BladderMaybe you feel a sudden need to urinate… or have to go frequently… you wake up to urinate several times during the night… or face the embarrassment of uncontrollable “leaks.” These are signs of an overactive bladder. And it’s a very common health problem – especially for women.

The truth is, more than half of all women wind up with bladder trouble.1 Even worse, a recent Spanish study found that over two-thirds of them never mention it to their doctor.2

I’m not sure why these women do not discuss these problems with their doctor. But I do know you can easily get partial – or even full – relief.

Here’s the good news: You can usually beat bladder problems without risky surgery or expensive medications. And in the next few minutes you’ll discover some simple ways to deal with an overactive bladder.

How Your Bladder Works – and What Can Go Wrong

You’ve probably inflated a rubber balloon before. As you force air in, the balloon stretches outward. To keep the air in, you pinch off the open end. To let the air out, you just ease off on the pressure. You probably figured it out long before you started school.

Well, that’s also basically how your bladder works. But instead of air, your bladder fills with liquid coming from the kidneys. Instead of pinching the opening with your fingers, you have a muscle – called a sphincter – that does the job. And the pressure that forces the liquid out comes from other muscles that support your bladder.

Sometimes, inflammation, infection, muscle contractions or other problems create an urgent need to urinate – and can prevent the sphincter from holding all the fluid back. When this happens, you need to find a bathroom… fast.

But there’s often a simple solution to this problem. In fact, it can be as easy as changing a couple of habits.

Simple Lifestyle Changes Build Bladder Health

Two common culprits are caffeine and alcohol. Both are diuretics. That is, they increase the flow of urine. So drinking coffee or alcohol can be a real problem if you have an overactive bladder.

It’s also why cutting back on these beverages is one of the first suggestions I give my patients with mild bladder problems. Sometimes, that’s all it takes to clear things up.

Acidic and spicy foods can make bladder problems worse, too. So take it easy on citrus fruits, tomato products and spicy dishes. Carbonated beverages can also be a problem. Since they have zero health benefits, I recommend avoiding them completely.

You can also take a few other simple steps to find relief. For example, smoking and carrying extra weight aggravate bladder trouble.3 Plus, when you cut out extra weight and smoking, you’ll enjoy plenty of other health benefits.

More Ways to Calm an Overactive Bladder

In many cases, specialized exercises – called Kegels – can help you regain control of your bladder.

Tighten your muscles as if you’re trying to hold back an urgent need to urinate. These are the same muscles this exercise strengthens. Your doctor can teach you how to perform Kegels in just a few minutes… though it may take a few weeks for you to get the full benefit.

“Bladder training” is another therapy that works for some of my patients. With bladder training, you urinate on a set schedule. As you progress, you increase the length of time between bathroom breaks. Many people find they can work up to four or five hours without any problems.

If you’re taking medications, discuss them with your doctor. Muscle relaxants, high blood pressure drugs, heart medications, sedatives and some other drugs can all aggravate bladder problems.

Finally, you might try certain herbs that support healthier bladder function. For example, an article in the World Journal of Urology notes that Uva ursi, juniper berry and cranberry all have an antiseptic effect in the urinary tract.4 And animal studies have shown ginger is an anti-spasmodic.5 It may help sooth the contractions that come with an overactive bladder.

If you or a loved one have bladder trouble, don’t suffer in silence. There’s no reason to put up with the inconvenience, the discomfort and the embarrassment for one minute longer. Chances are, finding relief is a lot easier than you imagined.

Best Life Herbals Wellness Team
Best Life Herbal

1 Bradley CS, et al. Pelvic floor symptoms and lifestyle factors in older women. J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2005 Mar;14(2):128-36.
2 Gavira Iglesias F, et al. Communication, diagnosis and treatment of urinary incontinence in the elderly in a basic health area. Atencion Primaria. 2001 Jun 30;28(2):97-104.
3 Milne JL. Behavioral therapies for overactive bladder: making sense of the evidence. J Wound Ostomy Continence Nurs. 2008 Jan-Feb;35(1):93-101; quiz 102-3.
4 Yarnell E. Botanical medicines for the urinary tract. World J Urol. 2002 Nov;20(5):285-93. Epub 2002 Oct 17.
5 Borrelli F, et al. Inhibitory effect of ginger (Zingiber officinale) on rat ileal motility in vitro. Life Sci. 2004 Apr 23;74(23):2889-96.

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