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General Health

What is an overactive bladder?

What is an overactive bladder?

Overactive bladder is characterized by a frequent and sudden urge to urinate, sometimes difficult to control. In certain cases, it can even lead to involuntary loss of urine.

The overactive bladder also affects men and can occur at any age, although the problem increases as we age because the brain is less sensitive to the sensation of the bladder, which gradually fills up. You feel nothing and suddenly you have the impression that you're full - difficult to anticipate! It can be really annoying, of course, but there're solutions.

Don't confuse it with incontinence

If this "failure" can lead to leakage when you don't have quick access to a toilet, unlike incontinence, it's not related to a lack of pelvic floor tone.

It's actually a problem with the sensitivity of the bladder sensors and the poor transmission of messages to the brain. However, a relaxed perineum can be the cause if urination needs to appear especially when the person stands up, but not while lying down or sitting. In this case, a physical therapist can prescribe some rehabilitation sessions.

This problem can end up isolating us if we no longer dare to go out for fear of not being able to control ourselves, or of spending a lot of time in the bathroom. However, if we detect the problem early, there's no reason to end up using protection. A urologist can do tests to determine the source of the problem. You can also check for any irritation of the bladder such as infection, stones, polyps, etc.

Medications and new reflexes

There're medications such as anticholinergics that decrease the excitability of the bladder muscle to limit the need to urinate. However, they can cause dry mouth, constipation, and are contraindicated in case of glaucoma. Therefore, it's better to try other solutions before prescribing them. For example, you can set an alarm every two hours on your phone to remind you to go to the bathroom, even if you don't need to.

Without systematic surgery

The intervention, which consists of placing a strip under the urethra to support the leakage of urine, is only effective in about a third of cases, and only in the orthostatic form (when the need to urinate happens when the person is standing up).

If your repeated need to urinate occurs mainly at night, it's best to limit your fluid intake before sleeping. Save the soup for lunch, drink your tea before 5 p.m., and at dinner, focus on starchy foods. You can also wear compression stockings if you have fluid build up of the legs (edema) in order to avoid fluid accumulation.