Are you constantly running back and forth from your desk to the bathroom? Is your boss giving you the stink eye because you always duck out of meetings to answer the call of nature? Do you wake up during the night and stumble to the toilet? You may have an overactive bladder. There are medical treatments for this condition, but many people wish to deal with the problem on their own, without the use of pharmaceuticals. Here are five ways that you may be able to improve your urinary control without expensive medications.
Drink Less Coffee and Alcohol
Caffeine and alcohol are both diuretics—they increase the amount of fluid you expel from your body in the form of urine. Additionally, both are also irritants—not only they do they make you have to pee more often, they will make you really feel the need, and urgently. If you’re concerned about your urinary frequency and you drink several cups of coffee each day, or enjoy multiple alcoholic beverages in the evenings, take note of how your consumption of these affects your need to relieve yourself. If you notice a strong correlation, try to scale back your consumption and see if your overactive bladder doesn’t settle down.
Control Your Fluid Intake
You’ve finished your bottle of water or juice or soda, so you refill it or grab another. Normal, right? Well, maybe not. The recommended daily fluid intake for adult males is about 13 cups (3 liters) and 9 cups (2.2 liters) for women. Start keeping a journal of how much you drink each day; if your numbers are higher what’s recommended, your overactive bladder may be the result of excessive fluid consumption.
Retrain Your Bladder
If your fluid intake is normal and you still experience frequent needs to urinate, it might be time to go back to potty training. Not literally, of course, but the idea is the same: when you were young, you had to learn to control your urge to urinate, and now might be the time to take a refresher course. While you shouldn’t hold a painfully full bladder—which can have serious health consequences—you can learn to ignore the tickles and twinges that normally spur you toward the toilet. It will be an exercise in mind over matter, but with some persistence you’ll be able to condition yourself to ignore those impulses that are annoying but not overly urgent.
Commonly called Kegels, these exercises strengthen the muscles that support your bladder and control your urethra. If you have difficulty controlling your flow when the need to pee arises, developing these muscles can save you much anxiety-inducing physical and social discomfort.The muscles in question are the same that expand and contract to start and stop urination. With an empty bladder, practice flexing and holding these muscles multiple times a day. Like any kind of exercise, results won’t be automatic, but if you’re as diligent with Kegels as you are with your other workout routines, you should expect to see results in three to six weeks.
Try Herbal Supplements
The market is flooded with natural remedies for ailments, and there are certainly supplements that claim to ease overactive bladders. The herbal blend called Gosha-jinki-gan reportedly inhibits bladder activity and helps ease urinary frequency. Another, Hachimi-jio-gan, appears to effect bladder muscles. Capsaicin (the chemical that gives peppers their spiciness) has been shown to increase bladder capacity, mitigating the need for frequent bathroom breaks.These supplements are not certified or regulated by the FDA, and there is no strong scientific support for their efficacy. However, preliminary studies on Gosha-jinki-gan, Hachimi-jio-gan and capsaicin have indicated that the supplements can help to mitigate overactive bladders.Although they take dedication and effort, these tips and tricks can help you to wrangle your overactive bladder and help you regain control over your daily schedule. If these tactics don’t work or if your condition worsens, you should consult your doctor for professional evaluation and treatment.