Does your bladder affect your day-to-day living, from inconvenient bathroom runs at the office to waking up in the middle of the night to pee?
Having an overactive bladder (OAB) is actually a condition, in which people release fluid more than the average toilet visits of every two to three hours. They also have trouble holding in urine for 30 minutes if they really need to, like being stuck commuting, for example.
“It takes over what you do,” Barry O’Reilly, obstetrician and gynecologist at Cork University Hospital in Ireland, told Independent Style. “It affects the ability to go out and socialize, it affects what people wear – women don’t wear light clothes, they wear dark clothes for fear of accidents. It’s embarrassing.”
Treating OAB has proven to be difficult, both due to the lack of data on its exact cause, and the “great stigma” that pushes people away from reporting the condition, explains O’Reilly.
“It has a strong link with depression because of disrupted daily routines,” O’Reilly said. “There’s the odour, the constant cleaning of clothing, the wearing of pads and containment products, even nappies in very severe cases.”
So what could be the cause of OAB?
There have actually been a number of studies done to understand just how people develop an overactive bladder. One suggestion is problems with nerve pathways to the bladder muscles, which inhibits the organ from holding as much urine as it can.
Another potential cause of overactive bladder in men is enlargement of the prostate gland. O’Reilly said the growth prevents the outflow of the bladder and makes it irritable. Researchers have yet to pinpoint a cause that solely affects women.
Understandably, drinking too many fluids than recommended levels could also lead to bladder problems. People on strict diets tend to eat less and swap solid foods with fluids, for example.
O’Reilly said there is currently “no magic bullet” available to fix an overactive bladder. But he does note there can be a combination of prescription drugs and lifestyle changes may help relax the bladder. If you find yourself spending more time running to and from the bathroom than you should, it might be time to speak to your physician. OAB doesn’t have to be stigmatized – everyone pees!
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