Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Overactive Bladder

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What kind of incontinence do I have?

There are four types of incontinence: stress, urge, overflow, and functional. Based on your symptoms and experiences, your doctor should be able to diagnose which type you have and how best to treat it.


What are the treatment options?

Behavioral modifications—diet, kegel exercises, bladder training—are the first steps. Medications called anticholinergics are administered for the treatment of overactive bladder. These drugs affect the nerve endings of the bladder and relax the bladder muscle, thereby reducing accidents. Surgery is the last option and includes inserting mesh slings and restoring the bladder neck or urethra.


What are the side effects of my treatment?

Make sure you are fully aware of the side effects that your treatment (medication or otherwise) may bring on.  Furthermore, ask your doctor which side effects are normal and which to take back to alert him or her to.


Can this lead to other serious health complications?

Overactive bladder can cause skin rashes or sores, and urinary tract infections. Ask your doctor to explain these complications further and the best ways to prevent them.


Are there any other things I should be aware of?

A common and serious problem is falls or injuries from rushing to the bathroom. But the biggest impact is the emotional toll. Your doctor should have material with tips on how to handle life with an overactive bladder.


Do I have to change my diet?

Eliminate or reduce bladder irritants like caffeine, alcohol, spicy foods, citrus fruits, and onions. Instead have non-ground wheat bran and nonacidic foods. Work with your doctor to figure out what are triggers for you.


Are there certain physical activities I should avoid?

Depends on the person, but usually people with overactive bladder can continue with sexual activity and low-impact exercise. Your doctor may have some suggestions for how to handle overactive bladder during these activities.


What other lifestyle changes would you recommend?

Ask about other lifestyle changes that may alleviate your symptoms, such as quitting smoking and losing weight. Your doctor can provide more information on healthy lifestyle changes.