Overactive bladder (OAB) is very common in older adults, and both men and women can have it, though it’s more prevalent in women.

An overactive bladder (OAB) happens when a person suddenly gets the urge or desire to pass urine. This can happen at any point in a day or night. The causes of an overactive bladder can vary, though some people are more at risk than others – while we don’t know exactly why, we do know that diet plays a vital role, so much so that some food can cause the symptoms of OAB while other types of food can promote bladder health.

The causes of overactive bladder

There are several underlying causes of an overactive bladder, including:

  • Diabetes (known as polyuria)
  • Urinary tract infections (UTIs)
  • Weak pelvic muscles
  • Neurological disorders (Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis)
  • Getting older
  • Bladder structural problems
  • Enlarged prostate
  • Low oestrogen levels (associated with the menopause)

How diet can cause overactive bladder

Another cause of an overactive bladder can actually be dietary related. Many people know that caffeine and alcohol can have a sort of diuretic effect, causing increased urination. According to The Cystitis & Overactive Bladder Foundation, in addition to caffeine and alcohol, foods that can irritate or trigger overactive bladder also include:

  • Tomato-based foods
  • Highly spiced foods
  • (Acidic) fruit and fruit juice
  • Fizzy drinks
  • Foods made with artificial sweeteners

It must be said that eliminating these foods does not need to be an all-or-nothing approach. In most instances, you may still enjoy a small quantity occasionally instead of cutting them out totally.

Treatment for overactive bladder

The first person you should call and seek treatment for overactive bladder is your GP. In this day and age, however, many people also turn to the internet to get a better understanding before visiting the GP.

According to MayoClinic.org, the process of determining the correct treatment for an individual does often begin with behavioural intervention techniques. These techniques include performing pelvic floor muscle exercises (such as kegels) to help stop involuntary contractions, scheduling toilet trips, losing weight, training your bladder and using absorbent pads.

In the event that behavioural intervention techniques do not work, your GP is likely to discuss medication, bladder injections or suggest that you use a catheter. Only at the last resort, your GP would suggest surgery to either increase your bladder capacity (which may still require usage of a catheter) or bladder removal (making use of a stoma bag).

How diet can help overactive bladder

In the event that your GP has advised you to try behavioural intervention techniques, has prescribed medication or even suggest you use a catheter to combat overactive bladder, you may still be wondering if it is possible to make dietary changes that can have a positive effect and reduce the constant need to urinate.

According to The Cystitis & Overactive Bladder Foundation, drinking 2 to 2.5 litres of water per day can be beneficial. On the surface, this may sound contradictory as many people believe that reducing the intake of water can lower the chances to urinate – but drinking less water means that the urine produced is more concentrated, which can irritate your bladder lining and make you wish to go to the toilet more often. The website suggests patients spread the intake of water over the day (ideally before 6 pm).

If you want further ideas, Healthline.com suggests that vegetables rich in vitamins can promote bladder health and they include:

  • asparagus
  • broccoli
  • carrots
  • celery
  • cucumbers
  • kale
  • lettuce

And non-acidic fruits for bladder health include:

  • apples
  • bananas
  • blackberries
  • coconuts
  • grapes
  • watermelon

High-fibre foods such as almonds, beans, bran, ispaghula husk (Fybogel), lentils and oats can also help, especially if you suffer from constipation which can put pressure on the bladder, thus causing or speeding up the urge to urinate.

Can a catheter help to manage overactive bladder?

Catheters are tubes that allow your bladder to be drained by carrying the urine out of your bladder and into a bag – usually secured to the leg. When full, the bag can be removed and emptied.

According to MayoClinic.org, using an intermittent catheter to empty your bladder completely can help to manage overactive bladder from time to time. Intermittent catheters mimic normal bladder function and have a lower risk of infection.

It is highly unlikely that your medical provider would suggest Indwelling or Suprapubic catheters to you, but for the purpose of this article, we shall also mention them for your benefit:

  • Indwelling catheters: Similar to an intermittent catheter but connected to a deflated balloon that is inflated to keep the catheter in place for approximately 10 to 12 weeks.
  • Suprapubic catheters: Inserted through a surgical incision through the abdominal wall and are replaced every 10 to 12 weeks.

While Indwelling and Suprapubic catheters have many benefits, they do carry a higher risk of infection, which is something that UroShield can help with.

UroShield is an effective, non-invasive way of diminishing the chance of catheter-related infection (mainly Indwelling and Suprapubic). This small, unobtrusive medical device generates low-frequency ultrasound waves to prevent bacteria from forming on the surface of the catheter, thus stopping the creation of biofilm – which can also be a barrier to treating pre-existing infections via medication.

These low-intensity, painless waves reverberate around the surface of the catheter, as well as the balloon connected to indwelling catheters. Additionally, the vibrations eliminate blockages and encrustation caused by crystallised mineral salt deposits and are effective at reducing the risk of bladder pain and spasms. UroShield can be used with both indwelling and suprapubic catheters.

To learn more about UroShield, you can call 020 8773 7844 or fill out our Online Form and we will be in touch.

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Nothing in this article should be taken as qualified medical advice. This article is for information purposes only. You should always discuss medical issues and symptom with your own doctor.