If you have bladder-control problems—which are more common for those with diabetes—read on to clear up some of the most common misconceptions:
- Myth: I leak when I cough or sneeze, so I must have overactive bladder (OAB).
Fact: If this is your only symptom, you may be suffering from stress incontinence, which is usually caused by weak sphincter or pelvic floor muscles. With OAB, the bladder nerves are damaged, so they send abnormal signals to urinate. As a result, you experience the urge to urinate frequently—often more than eight times a day—and you may be awakened at night two or more times in order to urinate, according to the National Association for Continence (NAC) in Charleston, SC. However, many people—especially postmenopausal women—have both stress incontinence and OAB. Make an appointment with your healthcare provider to find out for sure.
- Myth: Only older women have OAB.
Fact: While it does become more common as you age (for women, it often strikes after age 44; for men, it usually occurs after age 64), young people aren’t immune. Almost 17% of women and about 16% of men between 18 and 40 suffer from the condition.
- Myth: If I have OAB, I will probably need surgery.
Fact: There are plenty of effective lifestyle changes you can make, such as changing your diet, managing your fluid intake and learning to control your bladder. Cutting back on caffeine, alcohol and artificial sweeteners may be helpful. Other remedies include exercises, medication and nerve-stimulating procedures.
- Myth: If I have OAB, I need to drink less water.
Fact: Although drinking less does reduce your need to urinate, the smaller amount of urine may be more concentrated and more irritating to your bladder. Concentrated urine (which is usually dark yellow and smells strong) can cause you to run for the restroom more frequently and encourages bacterial growth. It’s best to drink six to eight 8-ounce glasses of fluid throughout the day, recommends the NAC.
- Myth: Kegel exercises won’t help if I have OAB.
Fact: Although pelvic muscle exercises—which help strengthen the muscles that support your bladder—are usually used to prevent or reduce urine leaks, they can be helpful for OAB. These exercises relax your bladder, which helps suppress a strong urge to urinate until you can find a restroom. Ask your healthcare provider for instructions.