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The first course of treatment is lifestyle changes, also known as behavioral therapy. This contains removing all the “bladder irritating” foods out of your diet like caffeine, alcohol, soda, artificial sweeteners, and spicy food. Keeping a daily diary of trips to the bathroom and food consumed can help you and your doctor understands your symptoms better.

Contrary to popular belief, overactive bladder (OAB) is not a usual part of aging. While the loss of bladder control can reason feelings of embarrassment, frustration, anger and low self-esteem, your doctor can help you find ways to manage your OAB. No one treatment is right for everyone, and often different therapies and treatments are used in combination at the same time.

Causes of overactive bladder syndrome (OAB)

It’s likely the cause of your trips is either muscular (meaning there’s an imbalance or weakness in your pelvic floor muscles) or behavioral (meaning you’ve inadvertently trained your bladder to signal your brain to pee prematurely).

Age and body weight can slightly up your chances of having OAB, but Lindsey says behavioral and hereditary reasons are a really common culprit. That doesn’t mean an overactive (or small) bladder is in your gene pool, but if you’re someone whose parents always told you to pee before a long car ride, or before leaving the house, it’s more than likely that your body has been conditioned to feel the urge when you’re on your way out the door or buckling your seatbelt.

In a perfect, peer-pressure free world, your brain *should* be signaling that your bladder needs to be emptied when it starts to reach the halfway point, generally around 8 ounces of liquid. But, if you have OAB, frequent bathroom breaks or learned familial behaviors are probably triggering your brain to send signals when it isn’t really necessary.

Treatment options

Drink more-Contrary to what most people assume, drinking less won’t stop leaks or the sudden urge to sprint to the bathroom. In fact, drinking less can make your pee more acidic, which in turn makes it irritating for your bladder to hold.

Bladder training- Because so much of OAB is rooted in associations your brain has made with specific actions or moments in your day, a big part of treatment is retraining your mind to ignore signals that your bladder is full when it really isn’t. You can start bladder training with small steps, like slightly growing the time between your bathroom trips. So, if you’re someone who goes to the bathroom every hour, start upping the time to every hour and fifteen minutes.

Pelvic floor exercises- Never to be underestimated, strengthening and retraining your pelvic floor muscles are an essential step in rebuilding bladder endurance. If your urges are being amplified by weak pelvic floor muscles, getting in tune with the function of your pelvic floor can help restore your control over when and where you need to pee.

Drink better- Avoid drinking tons of irritants like alcohol, caffeine, or carbonated beverages that can kickstart your bladder and send signals that it’s time to empty out, even if you’re not holding much liquid yet.

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