All You Need To Know About An Overactive Bladder

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An overactive bladder (OAB) is a medical condition in which your bladder can't hold urine normally. Your problems of urinary incontinence or leaking urine are the most common symptoms of OAB. An overactive bladder is a very embarrassing and distressing condition to live with if it isn't treated in time. Kegel exercises, herbal supplements, and cranberry juice are some of the important natural remedies for OAB. Vitamin D has also been shown to improve incontinence by improving bone health, especially in women.

Going to the loo a little too often? Not sure if it’s normal or not? Well, something might be amiss with your bladder. The daily recommended liquid intake for an average person is about 1.5 liters. Your bladder can easily hold up to 400–600 milliliters of urine. Some drinks such as alcohol and coffee increase the number of trips to the bathroom.

Ideally, this should not be the case as bathroom visits should be between 4 and 8 times during the day and once at night. When you do take more than 8 trips to the bathroom, it is a clear sign of an overactive bladder (OAB).1

Causes And Symptoms Of OAB

OAB is caused due to contracting muscles

Overactive bladder (OAB) is a condition or a set of symptoms that occur due to sudden contractions of the muscles in the wall of your bladder. OAB is the result of the detrusor muscle – located within the wall of your bladder – that involuntarily contracts. Eventually, this forces you to take frequent trips to the bathroom.

OAB can be caused by old age but that is not the only cause. Other reasons include medical conditions like Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, kidney disease, bladder obstruction, and weak pelvic muscles. It is also linked to medication use, surgery, and childbirth. Sometimes, the cause is unknown. However, OAB is a very common and treatable condition.2

Some of these symptoms could indicate that you have an overactive bladder or that your bladder is unable to hold urine normally:3

  • Inability to hold urine
  • Experiencing incontinence
  • Need to use the bathroom more often than usual
  • Urinating several times throughout the night

Such symptoms of an overactive bladder can disrupt your work routine, sleep quality, and cause a lot of embarrassment, making it hard for you to follow-up on daily activities.

Natural Treatments For OAB

Here are a few natural remedies to strengthen an overactive bladder and get rid of OAB for good.

1. Kegel Exercises

Kegel exercises strengthen the pelvic muscles

Kegel exercises are great for OAB and are safe with minimal side effects and complications. Special pelvic floor exercises are the perfect options to strengthen your muscles and minimize involuntary contractions, improving your posture.4

  • Ensure that your bladder is empty.
  • Lie down or sit and focus on tightening the pelvic muscles.
  • Hold this for about 5 seconds.
  • Relax your muscles and then repeat the same steps 5 times.
  • As your muscles get stronger, increase your routine to 10 seconds and 10 reps.
  • Remember to perform these exercises at least 10 or more times a day to ensure best results.

2. Bladder Retraining

Retraining your bladder helps with incontinence

 

Bladder retraining compliments the Kegel exercises rebuilding your bladder muscles. It is a great tool to use when OAB causes your bladder to react in a different way. Here’s how you retrain your bladder.

  • Delay urination at small intervals.
  • Hold it for 5 minutes and work your way up gradually.
  • Schedule your trips to the bathroom.
  • Maintain a journal to see how often you need to go and delay the times.
  • Start off with 10-minute delays and work your way up every 3 or 4 hours.

3. Magnesium

Magnesium-rich foods have been known to reduce incontinence

Magnesium is vital for our body, as it maintains muscle and nerve functions. Some researchers believe that a magnesium-rich, well-balanced diet consisting of bananas, dark leafy greens, avocados, and nuts reduce incontinence as well as bladder muscle spasms. It also helps the bladder to fully empty when urinating.5

Taking over-the-counter magnesium hydroxide supplements will help you gain significant control over your urinary bladder. Consult a doctor and get the right dosage of these supplements as taking the wrong dosage could be problematic. It will also help you sleep better, which will prevent the need to go to the bathroom often.6

4. Cranberry Juice

Cranberry juice has known to reduce the effects of incontinence

Drinking cranberry juice regularly helps to treat OAB by maintaining adequate fluid levels and improving your immunity. The anti-adhesive properties of cranberry juice also prevent E. Coli bacteria from aggravating your overactive bladder problem.

5. Vitamin D

Vitamin D foods increase calcium intake and reduce incontinence

A surprise entry in this list of treatments, vitamin D increases your calcium intake and promotes bone health. Researchers believe that it also helps reduce the risk of incontinence.7

A 2010 study even concluded that woman aged 20 and above with normal vitamin D levels experienced fewer problems with pelvic floor disorder and incontinence than the ones with a vitamin D deficiency. So, all you ladies ensure that you meet the requirement with fortified milk, eggs, fish, and other sources. See to it that you get the daily recommended intake of vitamin D of 600 IU. 8

Alternative Herbal Supplements To Treat OAB

Chinese herbal supplements and corn silk are good for OAB

Herbal supplements treat OAB by enhancing the resistance power of your bladder. Here are a few such supplements you can try out.9 10

1. Chinese Herbal Blends

Gosha-jinki-gan (GJG) is a blend of 10 traditional Chinese herbs. It inhibits your bladder and significantly improves its daytime frequency. Hachimi-jio-gan (HE) is another Chinese herbal medicine that’s made up of eight natural ingredients, some of which are also in GJG. It significantly affects bladder muscle contraction.

2. Capsaicin

Usually found in the fleshy part of Chile peppers, capsaicin is commonly used to treat pelvic pain syndrome, a known symptom of OAB.

3. Corn Silk (Zea Mays)

Corn silk is the waste material obtained from corn cultivation. It has been used as a traditional medicine for many ailments, including bedwetting and bladder irritation, in countries like China and France. Corn silk prevents incontinence by strengthening and restoring mucous membranes in your urinary tract.

Give these natural remedies a try if your bladder is too eager for your liking.

References   [ + ]

1.Kohli, Neeraj, and Danielle Patterson. “Interstim® therapy: a contemporary approach to overactive bladder.” Reviews in Obstetrics and Gynecology 2, no. 1 (2009): 18.
2.Overactive Bladder. The Cleveland Clinic Foundation.
3.Need Relief From Overactive Bladder Symptoms? U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
4.Kegel Exercises. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
5.Maserejian, Nancy N., Edward L. Giovannucci, Kevin T. McVary, and John B. McKinlay. “Intakes of vitamins and minerals in relation to urinary incontinence, voiding, and storage symptoms in women: a cross-sectional analysis from the Boston Area Community Health survey.” European urology 59, no. 6 (2011): 1039-1047.
6.Gordon, David, Asnat Groutz, Jessica Ascher‐Landsberg, Joseph B. Lessing, Menachem P. David, and Olga Razz. “Double‐blind, placebo‐controlled study of magnesium hydroxide for treatment of sensory urgency and detrusor inst ability: preliminary results.” BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology 105, no. 6 (1998): 667-669.
7.Vaughan, Camille P., Vin Tangpricha, N. Motahar-Ford, Patricia S. Goode, Kathryn L. Burgio, Richard M. Allman, Shanette G. Daigle, David T. Redden, and Alayne D. Markland. “Vitamin D and incident urinary incontinence in older adults.” European journal of clinical nutrition 70, no. 9 (2016): 987-989.
8.Parker-Autry, Candace Y., Kathryn L. Burgio, and Holly E. Richter. “Vitamin D status: a review with implications for the pelvic floor.” International urogynecology journal 23, no. 11 (2012): 1517-1526.
9.Chughtai, Bilal, Elizabeth Kavaler, Richard Lee, Alexis Te, Steven A. Kaplan, and Franklin Lowe. “Use of herbal supplements for overactive bladder.” Reviews in urology 15, no. 3 (2013): 93.
10.Chen, Yung-Hsiang, Yu-Ning Lin, Wen-Chi Chen, Wen-Tsong Hsieh, and Huey-Yi Chen. “Treatment of stress urinary incontinence by cinnamaldehyde, the major constituent of the chinese medicinal herb ramulus cinnamomi.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2014 (2014).

Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.

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