Overactive Bladder (OAB)

  • Medical Author:
    Kevin C. Zorn, MD, FRCSC, FACS

    Dr. Kevin Zorn is a dual-board-certified (US and Canada), minimally-invasive uro-oncology, fellowship trained urologist at the University of Chicago. His main focus of clinical and scientific interest is in the surgical treatment of renal and prostate cancer. He is also an expert in performing surgery with the DaVinci Surgical Robotic System to manage localized prostate cancer and small renal masses. Dr. Zorn studied medicine and urology at McGill University in Montréal.

  • Medical Author: Abdullah Alenizi, MD
  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

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Quick GuideUrinary Incontinence: Foods and Drinks That Make You Gotta Go

Urinary Incontinence: Foods and Drinks That Make You Gotta Go

What are treatments for the chronically incontinent?

Although many people will improve their continence through medications, pelvic-muscle exercises, and bladder training, some will never achieve complete dryness. Sometimes treatment failures are due to concurrent use of other necessary medications, such as diuretics (water pills that increase urination), that actually can cause incontinence. Others may have dementia or other physical impairments that keep them from being able to perform pelvic-muscle exercises or retrain their bladders. Many will be cared for in long-term care facilities or at home. The following recommendations can help keep the chronically incontinent drier and reduce their cost of care:

  • Scheduled toileting (timed voiding): Take people to the toilet every two to four hours or according to their toilet habits.
  • Prompted voiding: Check for dryness and encourage use of the toilet.
  • Improved access to toilets: Use equipment such as canes, walkers, wheelchairs, and devices that raise the seating level of toilets to make toileting easier.
  • Managing fluids and diet: Behavioral modifications can directly impact symptoms of OAB. These include eliminating dietary caffeine, alcohol, and spicy foods (for those with urge incontinence) and encourage adequate fiber in the diet.
  • Disposable absorbent garments: Use these to keep people dry.

What measures can be taken at home to prevent overactive bladder symptoms?

There are simple steps that can reduce symptoms of overactive bladder. For example, caffeine may exacerbate urinary urgency and it is potentially an irritant to the bladder. Eliminating caffeine intake can diminish some of the symptoms of overactive bladder.

Some experts suggest that avoidance of certain foods, such as chocolate, spicy foods, alcohol, carbonated beverages, and nuts, can be beneficial in preventing symptoms of overactive bladder. Others encourage increasing the amount of dietary fiber for people with overactive bladder. Limiting fluid intake can also help to reduce urinary frequency.

Excess weight can put more pressure on the bladder, causing urinary incontinence. Therefore, weight loss can also help with urinary incontinence in general.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/26/2015

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