Where is the loo when I need it most?

Are you one of those people who begin to fidget and feel restless when the slightest urgency to urinate appear?

Do you first worry about where the loo is when going out or how convenient to get to one when needed? Or are you annoyed at having to get up a few times at night to answer to the call of nature? Chances are you may be suffering from overactive bladder (OAB) syndrome. To fan off your worries, OAB syndrome is rather common in both men and women, although there is evidence that more post-menopausal women suffer from the condition compared to younger women.

Overactive Bladder Syndrome

Overactive bladder syndrome, also known as “detrusor overactivity”, can manifest in one or all of the following ways: (a) an urgent need to urinate. This is sometimes followed by involuntary voiding of urine; (b) increased frequency of urinating, usually more than 8 times in a day and; (c) having to pee more than twice at night, usually disrupting your sleep. Although not many sufferers like to discuss this, OAB could negatively impact on your daily activities and social life. More importantly, it is a treatable condition.

Our urinary bladder is really a bag of muscles, known as the detrusor muscle, which stores urine. When the bladder is filled up, this muscle contracts and one feels the need to void. In OAB sufferers, the detrusor muscle contracts too often and with a greater intensity than normal, even before the bladder is full. This is why OAB sufferers find themselves to void frequently and in small amounts. This is sometimes followed by ‘leaking’ or as some would say, “wetting yourself”. In older women, the condition may be aggravated by pregnancy and childbirth due to the weakening of the pelvic floor muscles.

What not to eat?

Certain foods such as spicy foods, citrus foods, alcohol, carbonated beverages and caffeine, are known irritate the bladder and trigger episodes of OAB. Simply avoiding these foods alone may solve the problem. In addition, strengthening the pelvic floor muscles helps to reduce symptoms. This can be done by performing what is known as Kegel exercise, ie, contracting the pelvic floor muscles, as if you are holding your urine, for 5-10 seconds at a time and relax for 10 seconds between contractions. This is best practiced for up to 10 times every day.

Rarely but possibly, OAB is a symptom of illnesses that require urgent medical attention. These include, but are not limited to, urinary tract infections, stones in the bladder or the urinary tract and tumors of the bladder. These are often accompanied by pain and/or bleeding during urination besides other signs. In such cases, a doctor’s consultation should be sought immediately.

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