Lifestyle Changes

Lifestyle changes known as "behavioral therapy" are often the first treatments used to manage OAB. In behavioral therapy, you make some changes in the way you live day-to-day. Most patients don't get rid of all their symptoms with lifestyle changes. But many do have fewer symptoms using this type of treatment.

Limit food and drinks that you find "bladder irritating"

Some people have fewer symptoms when they eat and drink less "bladder irritating" food. Foods and drinks that bother some people include coffee, tea, artificial sweeteners, caffeine, alcohol, soda, and other fizzy drinks, citrus fruit, food made with tomatoes, chocolate and spicy foods. You can try taking all "bladder irritating" foods out of your diet and adding them back one at a time. Once you figure out which foods and drinks make your symptoms worse, you can avoid them.

Keep a daily "bladder diary"

Writing down when you make trips to the bathroom for a few days can help you and your health care provider understand your symptoms better. A diary may help show you some things that make your symptoms worse. For example, are your symptoms worse after eating or drinking a certain kind of food? Are they worse when you don't drink enough liquids?

Double voiding (emptying your bladder twice)

This may be helpful if you have trouble emptying your bladder completely. After you go to the bathroom, wait a few seconds and then try again to pass urine.

Delayed voiding

In this method of urinating, you teach yourself to put off going to the bathroom, even when you feel an urge. At first, you wait just a few minutes. Gradually you will be able to wait much longer between bathroom visits. But it is important to try this only if your health care provider tells you to. Some people have worse symptoms or have urine leaks when they wait too long to go to the bathroom.

Scheduled voiding

With this method, you follow a daily schedule of going to the bathroom. Instead of going when you feel the urge, you go to the bathroom at set times during the day. Depending on how often you go to the bathroom now, your health care provider may ask you to urinate every 2 to 4 hours, whether you feel you have to go or not.

Exercises to relax your bladder muscle

These can help decrease that "gotta go" feeling when it hits. Some call these exercises "quick flicks" because you quickly squeeze and release the muscles in your pelvis several times. When you get that "gotta go" feeling, squeeze and then relax your pelvic floor muscles as quickly as you can. Do "quick flicks" several times in a row when you feel the urge to go. This sends a message to your nervous system and back to your bladder to stop squeezing. As your bladder stops squeezing and starts relaxing, your "gotta go" feeling should lessen. When you do this exercise, it helps to be still, relax and concentrate just on the "quick flicks." Your health care provider can explain this exercise in more detail.

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