Expert Health Articles

Overactive Bladder

Are you always running to the restroom? Do you plan your daily activities around knowing where bathrooms are located? Do you struggle with leakage of urine? If so, you may have overactive bladder (OAB).

OAB is characterized by a frequent and sudden urge to urinate that may or may not be associated with leakage of urine. These symptoms can make you fearful to leave your home, cause embarrassment and limit your work or social life. If these symptoms sound familiar, it is time to talk about treatment options with your healthcare provider.

At your appointment, you will be asked questions about your urinary symptoms and factors that may be contributing to them. There are often lifestyle modifications that can be made to lessen symptoms. These modifications can be used alone or in conjunction with additional treatment options. There are oral medications approved to help decrease symptoms associated with OAB. For some, oral medications provide significant improvement, making daily OAB symptoms manageable. For others that continue to struggle with urinary frequency, urgency and/or urinary leakage after trialing oral medications, other opportunities are available.

Percutaneous tibial nerve stimulation (PTNS) is another treatment option for OAB. PTNS uses mild electrical stimulation through an acupuncture type needle placed near the ankle. This stimulation travels up the leg and to the nerves responsible for bladder control. PTNS is completed in 30-minute sessions, once a week for 12 weeks. Patients who respond well will then receive periodic maintenance sessions, typically on a monthly basis.

OnabotulinumtoxinA, aka BOTOX®, injections are another treatment option for OAB. BOTOX® is injected directly into the bladder muscle during an in office procedure. These injections work by blocking the signal from nerve cells to the muscle cells of the bladder, which in turn decreases over-activity of the bladder. Over time, your body will metabolize or “break down” this medication, therefore injections are repeated every six to nine months for management of OAB symptoms.

Another treatment option for OAB is a sacral neuromodulation device. This device is a small implant in the lower back, which provides stimulation to the sacral nerves. This stimulation helps restore normal communication between the brain and bladder to treat OAB symptoms. After the device is placed, programs can be changed to meet your specific needs to help with your urinary symptoms.

Don’t let overactive bladder decrease your quality of life. If you are ready to regain control of your urinary symptoms, call a provider to see what treatments options are best for you.

Cala Kelley, APRN-CNP
Blanchard Valley Urology Associates