Have you ever experienced the sudden urge to frequently go to the bathroom? Is this uncontrollable habit having an embarrassing effect on your personal life? If this situation applies to you, you might be experiencing over-active bladder (OAB) symptoms.
Approximately, 1 in 3 adults 40 years and older at least sometimes experienced these symptoms. During this time of the year, OAB could be especially difficult to manage.
So is there something you could do to get this condition under control? Dr. Kathleen Kobashi, accomplished urologist and noted OAB expert, talked to Brandi Walker about its symptoms, how to cope with the problem, and why only 1 in 8 women seek treatment for it.
- Describe the symptoms of overactive bladder (OAB). Overactive bladder (OAB) is a common, yet under diagnosed medical condition. Symptoms can include urgency (the sudden need to urinate), urgency incontinence (experiencing leakage or a wetting accident), and frequency (defined as the need to use the bathroom more than eight times in a day). The impact of living with OAB can cause embarrassment and also make it necessary for an individual to plan activities around bathroom access, thereby disrupting daily activities.
- What are the causes of this condition? Risk factors for overactive bladder range from age to diet to neurological diseases, such as multiple sclerosis and stroke. Women who have gone through menopause are more likely to develop OAB than pre-menopausal women. Diet can affect the bladder as well; caffeinated and alcoholic beverages are examples of bladder irritants that can cause OAB symptoms. In men, prostate enlargement that blocks the bladder from draining easily can result in OAB as the bladder works hard to overcome a tighter urine channel.
- Why do only 1 in 8 women seek treatment for OAB? Although about 1 in 3 adults 40 years of age or older in the U.S. experience OAB symptoms at least sometimes, only 1 in 8 women actually seek treatment. Some women think OAB is a normal part of aging or a consequence of childbirth, and while the prevalence of OAB may increase with these factors, OAB is not “normal”- women often fail to realize that OAB is a real medical condition. It can also be embarrassing for women to experience the symptoms associated with OAB, and it can be even more difficult to talk about them, resulting in some women waiting years to talk with a health care professional about their symptoms. A very important message is that no one has to live with OAB, and it’s important for women to be their own advocates and talk to their doctors because there are a number of treatment options available.
- What sort of treatment methods do you recommend for this condition? I would advise anyone experiencing OAB symptoms to talk with a health care professional about their symptoms and how to manage them. A health care professional can determine an individualized treatment plan. The management of OAB can include lifestyle changes, as minor as modifying fluid and caffeine intake and avoidance of other dietary bladder irritants. For some, lifestyle modification may not be enough. Other options that can help manage OAB symptoms include behavioral methods (e.g., Kegel exercises), prescription medications and bladder injections. Neuromodulation therapy, which is the name given to a group of treatments that deliver harmless electrical impulses to nerves in order to change how they work, can also be considered. What’s interesting is that the OAB landscape has changed in the past few years and many educational resources, support tools and treatment options are now available.
- Where can people find more information about OAB? In addition to talking with a health care professional, people can visit www.oabreality.com for more information.
For more information on Dr. Kobashi, visit her page on http://www.virginiamason.org/body.cfm?id=1175&action=detail&ref=282