September 1st, 2015
An overactive bladder (OAB) is a frequent or sudden urge to urinate. Some even experience leakage, multiple episodes of nighttime urination or urinary incontinence. For many patients, OAB interferes with their daily routine and quality of life. Luckily there are lots of treatment options, including medication. First, the physician has to find out what is causing the issue. For older men, an enlarged prostate or benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH) is often the cause. Here, ED medications are sometimes prescribed. Those who have M.S. or Parkinson’s may find OAB a symptom of their condition. Bladder stones or even cancer may also be at fault, so it’s important to see a doctor. A full examination and diagnosis must be completed before the appropriate therapy can be arrived upon. Depending on the cause, some physicians suggest trying lifestyle changes and behavioral therapy before taking medication as some people can experience side effects. Creating a bathroom schedule, keeping tabs on what you drink, watching what you drink, relaxation techniques and more can help. For some patients, a specific cause cannot be found.
If these lifestyle changes fail to curb the problem, medication is usually the next step. What are the best medications for OAB? There are generally two kinds. The first relaxes the muscles in order to allow urine to pass more easily out of the body. The second is the type that strengthens the muscles of the bladder which may have weakened over time. Anticholinergics are the most commonly prescribed class of drugs for OAB. These relax the muscles and stop the spasms which lead to urination. They do so by blocking the chemical messenger acetylcholine. Dry mouth is the most common side effect. Tricyclic antidepressants are also pretty commonly prescribed. They strengthen the muscles at the neck of the bladder helping to curb incontinence while relaxing other muscles, lowering the urge to go. Sleepiness is the most common side effect. Lastly, Botox has been used to neutralize some of the muscles in the bladder that cause OAB. Though effective, this is a new procedure and may not be covered by insurance. If you haven’t already, see your doctor and find out what is causing OAB and which treatment is right for you.