At Inura, we want to break the stigma and shift cultural norms around Overactive Bladder (OAB). In this article, we will focus on behavioral interventions that can be implemented as a first line of treatment for OAB patients. Lifestyle changes, such as physical exercise, bladder training, and a combination of restricting certain fluids with changing food intake habits, may improve bladder control and help OAB patients to gain back control of their lives.
Changing a diet is the first step to fight against the initial symptoms of an overactive bladder. Limiting or avoiding caffeinated foods and beverages such as coffee, black and green tea, sodas and chocolate, can be very beneficial. Caffeine is a diuretic. It stimulates the bladder muscle and provokes the symptoms of an overactive bladder. Similar to caffeine, alcohol also acts as a diuretic and increases urine production. Therefore, it is likely to make the “I Gotta Go!” symptom worse for people with an OAB. Additionally, if you struggle with bladder leakage, vinegar citrus drinks, concentrated tomato products, and vitamin C should be avoided in your diet. Studies have shown a direct link between constipation and OAB. Therefore, it is recommended to eat food high in soluble fats such as avocados, sweet potatoes, black beans, oats, and broccoli.
The next step of behavioral interventions that can be implemented as the first line of treatment for OAB patients is bladder training. When you have OAB, you tend to go to the toilet more frequently than you need to avoid embarrassment. But these frequent visits make it worse. Instead of rushing to the toilet as you get the urge, here are some recommendations on how you can train your bladder:
- Delay urination with small intervals. When you feel the need, try to hold off for 5 min and work your way up.
- Keep a bladder diary to determine how frequently you go to the bathroom.
- Schedule trips to the bathroom to see how often you go and delay that time.
- Other tricks include distracting yourself, shifting your position to lean slightly forward, as this can sometimes take the pressure off the stomach and bladder. Moreover, try to contract your pelvic floor muscles as this leads to a reduction in pressure.
The goal is to increase the amount of time between emptying your bladder and the fluids it can hold. The most important to remember about bladder training is that it should be done in small steps, so it can take up to 12 weeks to achieve your goal. Therefore, don’t give up and keep practicing!
Another useful intervention is exercising the pelvic floor muscles. Like any other muscles in the body, the more you use them, the stronger they get, and going to a physiotherapist is a good way to learn how to exercise the pelvic floor muscle. Some beneficial exercises are Kegels, Squats, Bridge, Split Tabletop. When done correctly, these exercises can build up and strengthen these muscles to help control the bladder and bowel. If you’d like to learn more, here’s a great video about it! In the video, the physiotherapist explains not only how but also why pelvic floor and abdominal muscles exercises could be valuable for you.
Lastly, overweight OAB patients can benefit greatly from weight loss. Do you know that being overweight can increase the chances of experiencing urinary incontinence due to the midsection’s extra weight? Excess weight adds pressure on the bladder, and this extra pressure makes the bladder more likely to leak. Several studies have shown that continuous weight gain would increase the likelihood of developing urinary incontinence over a 5 to 10-year period. Therefore, every action counts!
As we mentioned, diet modifications, specific exercises, and weight loss can improve urinary incontinence and OAB symptoms. In our next article, we will explain what to do if these first-line interventions do not work and which are the second-line treatment options patients can get.
About Inura Medical
Inura Medical is a Swiss start-up company with a clear vision to make a difference in women’s health. Inura’s product is an innovative, first-of-its-kind “intraurethral ovulum” that utilizes a novel route of drug administration to treat diseases of the bladder and lower urinary tract. The first indication we are addressing is a chronic disease, named overactive bladder (OAB). We are located in the HEMEX incubator in Liestal, Switzerland. Inura Medical’s technology results from decades of work in urology by Professor S. Grant Mulholland from Jefferson Medical College, Pennsylvania (US). Professor Mulholland was a renowned surgeon, academic, and past President of the American Urology Association. More details on https://inuramedical.ch/.