Best treatments for an overactive bladder (2023)

Overactive bladder is a disorder that causes various symptoms, including a sudden, uncontrollable urge to urinate and a frequent need to go to the bathroom during both the day and the night. Some people also experience incontinence.

Overactive bladder is a common condition that affects both males and females. It can happen at any age, but it becomes more likely as people get older.

Having an overactive bladder can affect a person’s work, social life, and sleep quality. In one study, 65% of people with an overactive bladder said that it affected their quality of life.

Effective treatment is available in many cases. A range of factors can lead to an overactive bladder, and the treatment will depend on the cause and whether the person experiences incontinence.

Options include home remedies, medication, surgery, and nerve stimulation. A doctor can help an individual find the best approach.

In this article, learn more about how to manage an overactive bladder.

Find out more about the symptoms and causes of an overactive bladder in our dedicated article here.

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A change in drinking habits may help relieve symptoms for some people.

Caffeine and alcohol can act as diuretics, which means that they can cause a person to produce more urine. Caffeine is present in coffee, tea, energy drinks, and many sodas.

Other drinks that may trigger additional urination include:

  • carbonated beverages
  • drinks containing artificial sweeteners
  • cranberry juice

People may be able to minimize nighttime symptoms by reducing their intake of liquids just before bed.

It can be tempting to try to reduce urine production by drinking less fluid overall. However, this can lead to dehydration. In addition, concentrated urine can irritate the bladder and make symptoms worse.

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Some foods, including spicy foods and acidic foods — such as orange juice and tomato sauce, can also irritate the bladder and exacerbate the symptoms of an overactive bladder.

Various lifestyle remedies may help reduce symptoms.

Weight management

Obesity is a risk factor for an overactive bladder, possibly because the additional weight puts pressure on the pelvic floor. Losing weight may relieve symptoms.

Smoking

Experts have linked smoking with symptoms of an overactive bladder in both males and females.

Pelvic floor exercises

These exercises, which people often call Kegel exercises, aim to strengthen the muscles that control urination. They involve tightening, holding, and then relaxing the muscles that the body uses to urinate. People can perform these exercises anywhere, at any time, but it is best to empty the bladder first.

Electrical stimulation of muscles

Doctors may also achieve the effects of pelvic floor exercises through electrical stimulation of the same muscles.

Bladder training

The urge to urinate occurs when the bladder contracts. When a person has an overactive bladder, the bladder starts to contract before it is full. A person can feel as though they need to urinate and then find that there is no urine to expel.

In bladder training, a person resists the urge to urinate. The aim of this is to train the bladder to become used to holding more urine. Bladder training can take time, and it can require patience.

A person usually begins by resisting the urge to urinate for just a few minutes. They gradually build up until they can wait an hour or more between bathroom visits.

This technique is only suitable for people with an overactive bladder, and it needs a doctor’s guidance.

Biofeedback

Biofeedback gives a person the chance to monitor how certain actions affect their body.

For example, to determine how effective a movement or exercise is, a person might carry out pelvic floor exercises with a probe inside the vagina (for females) or anus (for males). This device sends information to a computer screen so that the person can see real-time feedback.

Getting this feedback can help the individual become more aware of what works and what to avoid.

(Video) Drug treatment for overactive bladder

Incontinence products

While a person is waiting for effective treatment, or if treatment does not work, the following products may help them manage their symptoms if they experience incontinence:

  • incontinence pads or pants
  • a handheld urinal
  • a catheter for draining urine
  • devices to prevent leakage, for example, while exercising

Learn more here about how to do Kegel exercises.

Some people may find medications beneficial. A person should follow their doctor’s instructions when using medications, and they may need to attend follow-up sessions so that the doctor can monitor them for adverse effects.

Diuretics and antidiuretics

These include antidiuretic drugs, such as desmopressin (DDAVP).

For people who primarily have a problem with urinating at night, a doctor may prescribe a diuretic to take in the late afternoon.

Antimuscarinics

A doctor may prescribe these for an overactive bladder or incontinence. Examples include oxybutynin (Ditropan) and tolterodine (Detrol).

Mirabegron

Mirabegron (Myrbetriq) can help treat an overactive bladder by relaxing the bladder, which helps it fill and store urine.

Antidepressants

Antidepressant medications may help reduce incontinence by improving muscle tone in the urethra. One example is duloxetine (Cymbalta).

Medications can produce adverse effects, some of which can be severe. A doctor should discuss these with the individual and monitor their use of the drugs.

Interstitial cystitis is another condition that can cause a person to feel pressure on the bladder. Find out more about this condition here.

Surgery

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Depending on the cause and symptoms of overactive bladder, surgery may be an option if other treatments do not help.

Adapting or repairing damage to urinary organs may help relieve symptoms.

The choice of procedure will depend to some extent on the cause of overactive bladder, the person’s sex, and the severity of the symptoms of urinary incontinence.

Options for surgical procedures include:

  • lifting the neck of the bladder (colposuspension)
  • putting a sling around part of the bladder (sling surgery)
  • inserting a mesh into the urethra (vaginal mesh surgery)
  • injecting urethral bulking agents to increase the size of the urethral walls
  • fitting a sphincter, a ring of muscle that can help control urine flow
  • injecting botulinum toxin (Botox) to relax the bladder
  • increasing the size of the bladder
  • diverting urine outside the body
  • inserting a catheter to manage overflow

A doctor will usually recommend surgery only as a last resort or for specific cases.

Nerve stimulation is a relatively simple and promising treatment for an overactive bladder. This treatment may help people whose symptoms do not respond to lifestyle changes or medication. It may also be beneficial for those who experience adverse effects from the drugs.

Nerve stimulation involves sending mild electric currents to the muscles of the pelvis and lower back that play a role in urination. It can either help the muscles contract or encourage the growth of helpful nerve cells in the area.

There are two main ways of performing nerve stimulation:

Percutaneous tibial nerve stimulation (PTNS): A professional puts a small electrode through the skin of the lower leg. A device sends pulses of electricity to the electrode, which stimulates a nerve in the leg. This, in turn, stimulates a nerve in the lower back that is responsible for controlling the bladder.

Sacral nerve stimulation (SNS): SNS uses the same process as PTNS, but the professional will place the electrode under the skin just above the buttocks. They use this to stimulate the nerve in the lower back that helps control bladder storage and the urge to urinate.

Learn more here about home and natural remedies for an overactive bladder.

Keeping a log

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One of the first steps in resolving an overactive bladder is to keep a journal of urinary habits and any other symptoms for about a week.

Doing this can help the individual understand what helps and what makes symptoms worse. It can also help them explain the issues to a doctor.

The person should record:

  • all of the fluids that they consume
  • when and how often they urinate
  • any cases of accidental leakage
  • reasons for any leakage, such as laughing or coughing
  • any leakage that occurs while sleeping or with no apparent trigger

Different conditions can result in unwanted urination patterns.

A person with urinary incontinence will often find it hard to control urination. Leakage can occur when they cough, for example, or for no apparent reason. Various underlying factors can cause different types of urinary incontinence. Find out more in this article.

A person with frequent urination will have control over their bladder, but they will urinate more often than usual. Learn more about frequent urination here.

An overactive bladder can affect a person’s quality of life, but treatment is available. Anyone who has concerns about urination should speak to a doctor.

A variety of factors can lead to urinary problems. With a correct diagnosis, there is a good chance of finding a suitable and effective treatment option.

FAQs

How can I stop my overactive bladder naturally? ›

Preventing nighttime urination
  1. avoiding beverages with caffeine and alcohol.
  2. maintaining a healthy weight, as excess weight can put pressure on your bladder.
  3. timing when you take diuretic medications so they don't impact your nighttime urine production.
  4. taking afternoon naps.

What calms an overactive bladder? ›

Anticholinergic medication to calm the bladder muscles and allow for better bladder filling; Vaginal estrogen therapy to revascularize the vaginal mucosa, urethra, and PFMs; and. Other lifestyle changes such as fluid management, weight loss, and control of constipation.

What is the safest overactive bladder medicine? ›

Key takeaways:
  • Overactive bladder (OAB) is a health condition that causes sudden or frequent urges to go to the bathroom.
  • The only over-the-counter medication approved for OAB is Oxytrol for Women (oxybutynin). ...
  • The best prescription OAB medications are anticholinergics and beta-3 adrenergic agonists.
29 Apr 2022

What is the newest medication for overactive bladder? ›

GEMTESA (vibegron) is an oral medicine for the treatment of overactive bladder (OAB) in adult patients. Credit: Urovant Sciences GmbH. GEMTESA will be launched in the US in April 2021. Credit: Urovant Sciences GmbH.

What vitamin helps with bladder control? ›

Conclusions: High-dose intakes of vitamin C and calcium were positively associated with urinary storage or incontinence, whereas vitamin C and β-cryptoxanthin from foods and beverages were inversely associated with voiding symptoms.

What is the fastest way to get rid of OAB? ›

Various lifestyle remedies may help reduce symptoms.
  1. Weight management. Obesity is a risk factor for an overactive bladder, possibly because the additional weight puts pressure on the pelvic floor. ...
  2. Smoking. ...
  3. Pelvic floor exercises. ...
  4. Electrical stimulation of muscles. ...
  5. Bladder training. ...
  6. Biofeedback. ...
  7. Incontinence products.

What is the best supplement for overactive bladder? ›

Magnesium. Magnesium is important for proper muscle and nerve function. Some doctors believe better magnesium levels can reduce bladder spasms, a common cause of incontinence.

Can overactive bladder go away? ›

No, overactive bladder doesn't go away on its own. If you don't treat OAB, your symptoms can get worse, the muscles in your bladder that help control when you pee can become weak and your pelvic floor tissues can get thinner.

What naturally relaxes the bladder? ›

Relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, may help. People should gradually increase the holding time until there are 3 to 4 hour gaps between bathroom visits. This technique is helpful for those who feel like their bladder does not empty fully. It is also a good idea to double-void before bedtime.

What are the four main symptoms of an overactive bladder? ›

Signs and Symptoms of Overactive Bladder
  • Sudden, urgent need to urinate.
  • Difficulty holding in urine.
  • Frequent urination (often eight times or more within 24 hours)
  • Unintentional loss of urine with urgent need to urinate (urgency incontinence)
  • Waking up more than once or twice at night to urinate (nocturia)
1 Oct 2021

What foods to avoid if you have an overactive bladder? ›

Foods to Avoid with OAB
  • Coffee and tea. The caffeine in coffee and tea beverages can increase bladder activity and exacerbate OAB symptoms. ...
  • Chocolate. ...
  • Alcohol. ...
  • Carbonated beverages. ...
  • Citrus fruits. ...
  • Cranberry juice. ...
  • Tomato products. ...
  • Spicy foods.
16 Jul 2021

Does drinking water help with overactive bladder? ›

Because the bladder can only hold so much fluid volume, increasing water intake will increase the frequency of urination, and may make people with an overactive bladder more likely to leak. If you have overactive bladder (OAB), more fluid intake typically equals more trips to the bathroom.

Is Cranberry Juice Good for overactive bladder? ›

Cranberry is a good option that may reduce your overactive symptoms. There are also foods to avoid and drinks you should avoid for overactive bladder that may make you pee more.

What is the cheapest medication for overactive bladder? ›

Prices for popular overactive bladder medications
  • Ditropan XL (oxybutynin ER) as low as. $22. ...
  • oxybutynin. as low as. $20. ...
  • Hyosyne (hyoscyamine) as low as. $17. ...
  • Levsin (hyoscyamine) as low as. $17. ...
  • Myrbetriq. as low as. $427. ...
  • tolterodine ER. as low as. $38. ...
  • Vesicare. as low as. $383. ...
  • trospium. as low as. $24.

Is there a better drug than oxybutynin? ›

Because tolterodine ER demonstrates improved efficacy in terms of continuation compared with oxybutynin while costing less overall, pharmacists should consider tolterodine ER when making recommendations for overactive bladder.

Why is OAB worse at night? ›

While we all continue to make urine at night, but women with OAB make more urine at night. The increased urine volume leads to more urges to use the bathroom, also called nocturnal polyuria.

What aggravates an overactive bladder? ›

Bladder irritants

Coffee, tea and carbonated drinks, even without caffeine. Alcohol. Certain acidic fruits — oranges, grapefruits, lemons and limes — and fruit juices. Spicy foods.

Is there medication for frequent urination? ›

Treatment may also include drugs such as darifenacin (Enablex), desmopressin acetate (Noctiva), imipramine (Tofranil), mirabegron (Myrbetriq), oxybutynin (Ditropan), oxybutynin skin patch (Oxytrol), solifenacin (Vesicare), tolterodine extended-release (Detrol LA), and trospium extended-release (Sanctura XR).

Is banana good for overactive bladder? ›

Fruits - while some fruits, especially citrus, can irritate the bladder, it's still important to incorporate them into your diet. Bananas, apples, grapes, coconut and watermelon are good options for those with overactive bladder.

What home remedy is good for frequent urination? ›

Suggested Home Remedies for Frequent Urination:
  • Pomegranate Paste.
  • Fenugreek Seeds.
  • Amla.
  • Tulsi.
  • Cumin.
  • Cranberry Juice.
  • Horse Gram.
  • Kegel Exercises.

Does Benadryl help overactive bladder? ›

Oral medications

Antihistamines, such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl, others) and loratadine (Claritin, others), which may reduce urinary urgency and frequency and relieve other symptoms.

Are there any over-the-counter medications for overactive bladder? ›

The drug oxybutynin may be used to treat OAB. It is available over-the-counter in patch form, which delivers 3.9 mg of oxybutynin daily through your skin. However, the over-the-counter patch is only available to women. Men may take oxybutynin in patch or oral form, but they need a prescription for it.

What happens if overactive bladder is left untreated? ›

Overactive bladder affects performance of daily activities and social function such as work, traveling, physical exercise, sleep and sexual function. If this condition is left untreated, it leads to impaired quality of life accompanied by emotional distress and depression.

How do doctors test for overactive bladder? ›

Urinalysis. Taking a urine sample allows your doctor to check for conditions that can cause overactive bladder. A urinalysis looks for the presence of these substances in the urine: Bacteria or white blood cells, which could indicate a urinary tract infection or inflammation.

How can I strengthen my bladder? ›

Pelvic floor exercises, also known as Kegel exercises, help hold urine in the bladder. Daily exercises can strengthen these muscles, which can help keep urine from leaking when you sneeze, cough, lift, laugh, or have a sudden urge to urinate.

Can overactive bladder be cured? ›

There's no cure for OAB, but the good news is that there are effective ways to manage it. These include behavioral treatments, lifestyle changes, medications, and sometimes surgery. OAB can happen for several reasons. Sometimes treating the underlying cause of your OAB can help your symptoms.

Can overactive bladder go away? ›

No, overactive bladder doesn't go away on its own. If you don't treat OAB, your symptoms can get worse, the muscles in your bladder that help control when you pee can become weak and your pelvic floor tissues can get thinner.

Is there a surgical procedure for overactive bladder? ›

Augmentation Cystoplasty

This procedure increases the size of the bladder, enabling the bladder to store more urine. A small amount of tissue is typically taken from the intestine and added to the wall of the bladder to make it bigger. In some cases, a catheter may be needed after this surgery has been performed.

What is the best supplement for overactive bladder? ›

Magnesium. Magnesium is important for proper muscle and nerve function. Some doctors believe better magnesium levels can reduce bladder spasms, a common cause of incontinence.

What foods to avoid if you have an overactive bladder? ›

Foods to Avoid with OAB
  • Coffee and tea. The caffeine in coffee and tea beverages can increase bladder activity and exacerbate OAB symptoms. ...
  • Chocolate. ...
  • Alcohol. ...
  • Carbonated beverages. ...
  • Citrus fruits. ...
  • Cranberry juice. ...
  • Tomato products. ...
  • Spicy foods.
16 Jul 2021

What happens if overactive bladder is left untreated? ›

Overactive bladder affects performance of daily activities and social function such as work, traveling, physical exercise, sleep and sexual function. If this condition is left untreated, it leads to impaired quality of life accompanied by emotional distress and depression.

Does drinking water help with overactive bladder? ›

Because the bladder can only hold so much fluid volume, increasing water intake will increase the frequency of urination, and may make people with an overactive bladder more likely to leak. If you have overactive bladder (OAB), more fluid intake typically equals more trips to the bathroom.

What aggravates an overactive bladder? ›

Bladder irritants

Coffee, tea and carbonated drinks, even without caffeine. Alcohol. Certain acidic fruits — oranges, grapefruits, lemons and limes — and fruit juices. Spicy foods.

What are the four main symptoms of an overactive bladder? ›

Signs and Symptoms of Overactive Bladder
  • Sudden, urgent need to urinate.
  • Difficulty holding in urine.
  • Frequent urination (often eight times or more within 24 hours)
  • Unintentional loss of urine with urgent need to urinate (urgency incontinence)
  • Waking up more than once or twice at night to urinate (nocturia)
1 Oct 2021

How do doctors test for overactive bladder? ›

Urinalysis. Taking a urine sample allows your doctor to check for conditions that can cause overactive bladder. A urinalysis looks for the presence of these substances in the urine: Bacteria or white blood cells, which could indicate a urinary tract infection or inflammation.

What are 3 treatment options for incontinence? ›

Incontinence products

absorbent products, such as pants or pads. handheld urinals. a catheter (a thin tube that is inserted into your bladder to drain urine) devices that are placed into the vagina or urethra to prevent urine leakage – for example, while you exercise.

How much does a bladder lift Cost? ›

How much does a bladder lift cost? Bladder lift surgeries can cost between an estimated $5,800 and $8,000. The exact amount depends on the type of procedure. Health insurance plans typically cover bladder lift procedures, similar to other surgical procedures.

Can Botox help an overactive bladder? ›

Botox injection into the bladder is a well-established treatment for overactive bladder and urgency incontinence, including urgency incontinence associated with neurological disease. It is usually used when behavioral and exercise therapies and medications have not been effective in treating symptoms.

What herb is good for overactive bladder? ›

Horsetail. Horsetail is an herb used to treat a variety of ailments. Among them are some symptoms of OAB including: urinary leaks (incontinence)

Does Vitamin D Help overactive bladder? ›

Vitamin D deficiency was more prevalent in patients with OAB (80%) than in controls (34.9%). They also showed that vitamin D supplementation improved UI and urinary symptoms in patients with OAB, as well as their QoL (23).

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