I don't want to delve too much into my personal life, but since some of you have asked I thought I would mention that I did get married last weekend. It was a fabulous event - everything I ever dreamed of! Our thanks to all of you who have offered your congratulations and best wishes. And now, back to talking about everyone's favorite topic...
One of the things that has really become an agent of change in the incontinence arena is the use of direct-to-consumer marketing, especially as used by the pharmaceutical companies who make and sell the drugs used to manage incontinence - specifically, incontinence relating from overactive bladder. Thanks to the advertisements in magazines and commercials, more people than ever are realizing that this is a condition they may want to discuss with their doctor to try to find a solution.
Overactive bladder is a condition in which the bladder spasms uncontrollably, causing the sudden, intense, and frequent urges to urinate. In some cases, these urges can lead to episodes of incontinence. The drugs that are available to help with this condition affect the central nervous system, calming down the detrusor muscle (the muscle surrounding and intertwined with the walls of the bladder that cause the spasms).
For many people, the medications are an answered prayer. By popping a pill once a day, they are now able to actively partake in life again, leaving home without fear of an accident, visiting locations without the need to "bathroom map" ahead of time, and simply getting through a movie or meeting without fighting the urge to urinate.
For others, the drugs simply aren't the best choice. Many people experience the side effects of these medications - for some, those side effects are bearable, but for many, those effects aren't worth the payoff. The common side effects associated with the overactive bladder medications include (in no particular order): dry mouth, blurred vision, headache, drowsiness, and constipation. Additionally, these medications don't actually cure the underlying cause of incontinence, so they only work while you're taking the medication. Many people don't like the possibility of being on a medication for the rest of their lives, and are looking for a more permanent, long-term solution.
The medications certainly have their pluses and minuses, and what's not right for one individual may be perfect for another. Something to consider when deciding whether or not to go on medication is your age and eligibility for other treatments, and also if you're on any other medications that could react with the OAB meds. Unlike a medication that you have to keep taking, for example, a medication for a heart problem, the drugs for overactive bladder are "elective," so keep in mind that you can always try a medication and stop taking it if you don't like the side effects or aren't getting the desired results - just make sure you talk to your doctor first.