Do you feel the need to run to the bathroom several times a day? Are your bathroom breaks getting in the way of everyday life? The you might be dealing with an overactive bladder, also known as OAB.
No worries, this condition is more common than you’d think. In fact, according to a 2016 study  around 23% of American adults could be suffering from OAB. That means one out of every five adults will probably have it.
Up until recently, this condition was poorly diagnosed and treated. In 2002, the International Continence Society proposed a formal definition. According to it, an overactive bladder is a ‘symptom syndrome’ characterized by urinary urgency. This means the sudden need to go to the bathroom.
You might need to consult a doctor about an overactive bladder if you:
According to studies, around twice as many women can have OAB compared to men. On the other hand, African American men and women are slightly more likely to have OAB .
In spite of its frequency, many people don’t feel comfortable seeking treatment for overactive bladder. However, the more time you let pass, the more it will interfere with daily life. Currently, doctors recommend using a mix of lifestyle changes and medication to control the symptoms.
As always, we recommend going to your doctor first if you suspect you have overactive bladder. A medical professional will be better-qualified to offer a diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
On the other hand, there are some simple lifestyle changes that might help with overactive bladder symptoms. Paired with OAB drugs, these simple science-backed tips might help you gain your life back.
A weak pelvic floor can worsen overactive bladder symptoms, making the urgent feeling more frequent. Kegel exercises are a great way to strengthen those muscles and make it easier to deal with urgency incontinence as well.
To start with Kegel’s, try to tighten and relax your pelvic muscles while going to the bathroom. This will ‘cut’ the urine flow, and you’ll slowly learn to control those muscles at will. Then, you can start squeezing for longer spans of time while you’re going on about your day. Start by holding for 30 seconds at a time, and then for longer periods.
Once you’ve done pelvic floor exercises for a while, you can try timed urination. According to the urology care foundation, following a bathroom schedule can ‘train’ your bladder to only go at certain times . This is especially useful if you’re struggling with sleep due to having to get up at night.
The goal with timed urination is to avoid the urgent feeling and regain some feeling of control. This method needs to be done with the help of a medical professional that will advice on the best interval to set up.
Chinese medicine uses cinnamon patches to treat overactive bladder, among other medical conditions. While this might sound a bit weird, a study published in January 2021 demonstrated cinnamon could be used to treat OAB .
This study found that after using cinnamon patches on the skin, patients showed marked improvement on their symptoms. This was particularly effective for those struggling with the feeling of ‘residual urine’ or like you didn’t properly emptied your bladder.
The only issue with cinnamon patches is that you need to apply it to the skin, and some people might be too sensitive. In large amounts, cinnamon can cause skin irritation or itching. If you decide to try this option, start with a small patch test to make sure you’re not sensitive.
This tip goes hand in hand with limiting food and drinks that will irritate your bladder muscles. According to a 2020 study, smoking significantly worsens overactive bladder symptoms and incontinence. Unfortunately, former smokers also had worse symptoms than those who didn’t smoke . The study also shows a strong link between overactive bladder in young women and smoking. This means that while younger people tend to have manageable symptoms, smoking made OAB symptoms similar to those among older women.
Scientists aren’t sure about the exact mechanisms at play between bladder dysfunction and nicotine, but if you feel your symptoms are worsening, try to cut it from your life.
According to research, constipation might be worsening your bladder issues. Preliminary results from large data sets point at a strong link between constipation and overactive bladder .
Like with OAB, women are almost twice as likely to suffer from chronic constipation than men, which might explain the occurrence of both conditions. Researchers aren’t completely sure why constipation and OAB are linked, but several studies  suggest they might be caused by shared issues within the pelvic area.
What we do know is that chronic constipation can make OAB symptoms worse, and increase your chances of suffering from urinary urge incontinence. To avoid these side effects, try to add more fiber to your diet. The CDC recommends having at least 5 servings of vegetables and 3 servings of fruit a day, so start aiming for that amount.
By adding these simple lifestyle changes you’ll slowly start seeing improvements in your OAB. Of course, make sure to let your medical team know, they’ll ensure you stay healthy while dealing with it.