There are many health issues that can affect the bladder, the organ that holds urine before it is released. Bladder diseases include cystitis, urinary incontinence, overactive bladder, and bladder cancer.
What is overactive bladder?
One component of female urinary incontinence is overactive bladder, or urgent incontinence. This is a little different from urinary frequency. Overactive bladder is when muscles inside the bladder go into spasm and send signals to the brain that tell the brain it’s time to use the bathroom. This signal may be so strong that an accident occurs.
How do you treat overactive bladder?
An overactive bladder is a bit involved because there are so many different ways to treat it. The very first thing we do at Tufts Medical Center in Boston is get a voiding diary from patients. This is a diary patients keep for a couple days that tracks things like fluid intake, leaks, and time of day for urinary events. They send it to us, we review it, and we come up with a plan that fits their needs. A lot of times it’s very simply, conservative methods. People don’t realize how much or how little they drink.
There are other surgical alternatives for overactive bladder. At Tufts Medical Center in Boston, we offer post tibial nerve simulation, which is like an acupuncture, that we do here in the office at Tufts Medical Center. The treatment lasts about three months. About 75% of patients see great improvement with their symptoms. Lastly, if the patient doesn’t see any success with other methods, we offer sacral neuromodulation. This small device looks like a pacemaker and stimulates the bladder nerves. This is normally reserved for patients that have tried everything else without seeing much improvement or benefit.