Counteracting Overactive Bladder: Alternative Treatments to Consider

March 08,2022 |
Elder woman talking to her physician.

Millions of Americans suffer from various urologic conditions. They can affect individuals of all ages, from birth until death. The severity of urologic issues depends on individual circumstances and the underlying cause of the condition. However, most people who are affected by some type of urologic disorder find relief from treatment options. In rare cases, and more serious disease, urologic problems can progress and lead to more noticeable disabilities or a drastic reduction in the overall quality of life. Therefore, if you notice any signs or symptoms that may be indicative of a problem, it’s important to talk to your urologist as soon as possible. In the case of overactive bladder, there are alternative treatment options that individuals should consider to counteract symptoms and improve quality of life. Here, we’ll discuss some of the less common treatment options that you should cover with your doctor.


What is Overactive Bladder?

Overactive bladder is a type of urologic condition that’s primarily characterized by incontinence and a sudden, urgent need to urinate. It can affect both men and women of all ages, including children and elderly individuals. However, women tend to experience greater incidents of OAB, often due to the impact of pregnancy and menopausal hormones on the bladder.

Causes of Overactive Bladder

Overactive bladder is actually not a condition in and of itself. Instead, it’s a range of symptoms that occur due to underlying conditions or various environmental factors. Some of the most common causes of OAB include diabetes, urinary tract infections, neurological disorders, nerve damage, hormonal changes, bladder abnormalities or obstructions, infection, medication use, declining cognitive function, obesity, excess consumption of irritants, incomplete bladder emptying, or weakened pelvic floor muscles. Stroke and dementia can also contribute to the development of OAB. If you’re worried about your risk factors, see your doctor to discuss preventative measures you can take.

Common Symptoms of OAB

If you notice any symptoms of OAB, it’s important to see your urologist. The most important part of diagnosing this condition is determining what’s causing it. The two primary symptoms of OAB are urinary incontinence and a sudden, intense feeling like you need to use the bathroom. This urgency may be paired with higher frequency of voiding, which can make it difficult to venture into unknown areas. Individuals affected by OAB may also develop nocturia, which occurs when you need to wake up multiple times throughout the night to empty your bladder.

Overactive bladder can be an intrusive urologic disorder that results in major disruptions to your daily life. Most people who experience symptoms of OAB don’t realize there are treatment options available and therefore, don’t seek out help. However, millions of Americans suffer from this condition, and you don’t have to avoid social situations or spending time in public. If you notice any symptoms of OAB, see your urologist as soon as possible. Doing so allows you to get the help you need to overcome triggers and get back to doing what you love.


Traditional Treatment Options for OAB

While common, OAB isn’t always easily managed. That’s why there are several different treatment options for individuals experiencing symptoms. When one treatment doesn’t lead to successful results, your urologist will work with you to try something else. This will continue until you find something that works. Some of the most common treatment options for OAB include the following.

Pelvic Floor Exercises

One of the first treatment options that your urologist will have you try is pelvic floor exercises. By regularly performing exercises that target the pelvic floor, you’ll gradually improve the strength of surrounding muscles, which can help you regain control of your bladder. If you’re not sure how to do these correctly and want to ensure you’re activating the correct muscles, you can work with a physical therapist to utilize biofeedback techniques.

Lifestyle Changes

Smoking can severely impact the health of your urinary tract system, especially in regards to your bladder. If you smoke, talk to your doctor about cessation tools. Staying hydrated is also important, even though it seems contradictory. Dehydration, however, worsens many urologic conditions and can increase your risk for urinary tract infections and other problems. Focus on drinking plenty of water early in the day and slowly limiting your intake as it gets closer to your bedtime. This can help reduce instances of nocturia. You should also consider keeping track of what you eat, drink, and the effect it has on your OAB. Since some foods and beverages can trigger symptoms, you may be able to manage your condition with a few simple changes to your diet.

Eating a healthy diet is especially important for individuals who are overweight, as every extra pound puts stress on your bladder and the supporting muscles. Work with your doctor and a nutritionist to determine a healthy weight loss plan that you can adopt for long-term success.


Alternative Treatments to Consider for OAB

Most urologist begin OAB treatment using lifestyle changes, as previously discussed. However, in some individuals, these alterations aren’t enough to bring lasting relief. If you have tried performing pelvic floor exercises, bladder training, physical therapy, and food and drink control without seeing any results, talk to your doctor about your eligibility for alternative treatments. Two of the best options include InterStim and Botox injections.

Using InterStim Therapy to Treat OAB

InterStim is a type of therapy that uses a small implantable device similar to a pacemaker. It’s placed in the bladder through minor surgery that is performed near the tailbone. The InterStim device works to stimulate the sacral nerves, which are nerves that help control the urinary sphincter, anal sphincter, pelvic floor, lower urinary tract system, and the colon. The stimulation that occurs can help stabilize the communication of nerve signals between the brain and the bladder.

Also referred to as sacral nerve stimulation, InterStim is a beneficial therapy that has produced promising results for over 300,000 individuals to date. In fact, InterStim has close to an 85% success rate for those who are eligible to utilize this treatment. It was approved by the Food and Drug Administration back in 1997 and has been helping alleviate symptoms of urologic conditions ever since. In addition to treating OAB, InterStim can help reduce problems of urinary incontinence, urinary retention, and fecal incontinence. This small, implanted device offers ongoing relief that helps you take back your life.

InterStim is not recommended for individuals who are suffering from stress incontinence, urinary blockages, or in individuals who already have a pacemaker. Similarly, pregnant women and individuals living with diabetes should seek alternative treatments for overactive bladder.

Botox Injections for Bladder Support

Another option for alternative OAB treatments involves Botox injections to help keep the bladder relaxed. Botox is a type of neurotoxin that works to weaken or paralyze targeted muscles. While many people tend to use Botox for cosmetic purposes, it’s also an excellent way to improve bladder support and reduce symptoms of OAB.

During this treatment, the Botox is injected directly into the bladder muscles called trabeculation, which then paralyzes them and helps balance bladder overactivity. This greatly increases an individual’s control over voluntary voiding and reduces incidents of incontinence, urgency, and frequency. The primary goal of Botox injections into the bladder is to relax muscles so they’re more effective at storing larger volumes of urine.

After undergoing one treatment of Botox injections in the bladder, individuals often experience up to six months of relief. Once the Botox begins to wear off, you can continue getting regular treatments. Botox is considered a safe, effective option for ongoing OAB support, so if you’re interested in giving it a try, talk to your doctor to learn more about your eligibility.

Always check with your doctor and insurance provider to determine your eligibility for coverage. Since InterStim and Botox injections are being used for overactive bladder, they’re often covered by most insurance policies. However, take the time to research beforehand to avoid costly bills.

If you’re suffering from overactive bladder, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with your urologist. Getting the proper diagnosis is essential to addressing any underlying causes. In addition to the above tips for managing overactive bladder, there are plenty of treatment options you can undergo to eradicate annoying and embarrassing symptoms. For more information on improving your urologic health, or for support of common urologic conditions like overactive bladder, contact Byram Healthcare today.