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By Angela Young
Overactive bladder syndrome is characterized by the unexpected leakage of large amounts of urine, including during sleeping hours. Affecting up to 17 million Americans, overactive bladder syndrome causes sufferers to lose urine when they feel no need or urge to urinate.
Often referred to as an unstable or spastic bladder, this syndrome is primarily brought on after some trauma to the bladder's nerves or a disease that adversely affects them. A treatable condition, overactive bladder syndrome can be controlled through medication and lifestyle modifications.
The symptoms of an overactive bladder include any leaking of urine that results from having to use the bathroom. An overactive bladder can be triggered by not being able to get to the bathroom quick enough, as well as drinking a liquid or hearing or touching running water.
Someone with overactive bladder will likely need to use the bathroom quite often throughout both the day and night, and may also wet the bed at night.
Overactive bladder syndrome is often a result of reflex incontinence, a result of overactive nerves controlling the bladder. This can occur due to many reasons, including damage to the nerves of the bladder, to the muscles themselves, or to the nervous system.
Often times, those suffering from other diseases such as Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, Multiple sclerosis, stroke, brain injuries or tumors will experience some harm to their bladder nerves and/or muscles that can lead to overactive bladder syndrome.
To make a diagnosis, a doctor will generally review symptoms and medical history. If the syndrome is not defined by the patient’s symptoms, further tests will be required for diagnosis. The first test will be a physical examination where the doctor would look for signs of a medical condition that could cause an overactive bladder such as tumors blocking the urinary track, poor reflexes and stool impaction. Generally, overactive bladder syndrome would be treated by a family doctor, but in some cases a patient would be referred to a urologist for further study.
At a urologist, or urogynecologist for women, the patient would undergo some additional common tests to determine if they are suffering from overactive bladder syndrome. These tests include bloodwork, a cystoscopy that searches for abnormalities in the urinary tract, a post-void residual measurement that determines how much urine remains in the bladder after urination, a urinalysis to look for signs of infection or other problems and urodynamic testing to determine urethral sphincter and bladder functionality.
Several medications are used to reduce the amount of leakage caused by an overactive bladder. All working in different ways, some relax muscles to allow for a greater emptying of the bladder, while others contract the bladder to prevent leakage. Medication to treat overactive bladder syndrome will generally cost about $90 to $125 monthly.
Making some adjustments to your diet can also have some effect in controlling your overactive bladder syndrome. Avoiding spicy food, acidic food, caffeine and alcohol have also been shown to help prevent bladder leakage. Also, following USDA recommendations for whole grain, fruit and vegetable consumption to avoid constipation is also a good idea for holistic treatment. There have also been positive results with bladder training exercises and setting up a toileting schedule to maintain a consistent interval between urination.
Though there is no known cure, with the proper combination of diet control, bladder training and in severe cases, medication, overactive bladder syndrome can be controlled.
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