To those who don’t suffer from it, an overactive bladder (OAB) may sound amusing. But for the more than 51 million men and women who have it, the sudden need to find a bathroom, fast, or, worse yet, not getting there in time, is a source of discomfort and embarrassment.
A recent New York Times article put numbers to this problem. ‘In an online questionnaire of 1,666 women aged 18 and older living in the 50 states (conducted for Astellas Pharma U.S., which makes drugs for bladder control) 87 percent admitted to urinating somewhere other than a bathroom, and more than half said they’d used a men’s room if the women’s room line was too long.’
Many women will recognize this next statistic: ‘46 percent said they’d purchased something from a store or restaurant, and 25 percent posed as a hotel or restaurant guest, to gain access to a restroom.’ Despite the fact that millions of people suffer from this condition, they are frequently too embarrassed to ask for help. Studies show that, on average, women wait six and a half years before consulting a doctor. For these patients, Dr. Daniel Katz, Urologist at the Premier Women’s Center for Continence & Sexual Health, located in Poughkeepsie, points out that waiting years to get help is not necessary, nor need they feel embarrassed. He says, “Once a patient takes the step of asking for help, they are amazed at how many resources and treatments are available. Their only regret, invariably, is that they waited so long.”
One Premier Medical Group patient Joyce M. put it this way, “I had suffered from overactive bladder for years and somehow never had the courage to tell my doctor. One day I was waiting to see my primary care provider and was reading a magazine article about overactive bladder. Finally, I had the courage to speak and I’m so glad I did. In my case, Dr. Katz performed a relatively simple procedure that has absolutely transformed my life. I now have better bladder control and live a more active lifestyle. It is wonderful and a tremendous relief.”
Surgery is by no means the only solution for overactive bladder issues. Dr. Katz recommends that patients keep a written record of the time and the number of urge bathroom visits. A urology appointment will begin with the patient giving an extensive health history and undergoing a physical exam which may include testing of their urine and bladder capacity. Tests include measuring the amount and speed of voiding and the pressure in and around the bladder as it fills. “Based on our findings, we create a treatment plan so patients know what to expect over the course of several visits. Simple problems may require simple answers such as behavior modification.” Behavior modification can include avoiding caffeine, alcohol and artificial sweeteners, which can irritate the bladder. Drinking fluids earlier in the day can reduce nighttime calls of nature. For overweight patients, losing weight often decreases overactive bladder symptoms.
In more complex cases, Dr. Katz explains that there is a wide range of minimally invasive techniques such as medication, acupuncture, Botox injections, interstim-neuromodulation (like a pacemaker for the bladder), percutaneous tibial nerve stimulation (PTNS), surgical repair, or, very rarely, pelvic floor reconstruction. Dr. Katz says, “these minimally invasive surgical procedures succeed with little or no side effects and rapid recovery.” Whatever the cause of urinary frequency, urgency, and urge incontinence (OAB), Dr. Katz emphasizes, “there is no need to suffer in silence and frequently, after treatment, the problem will be just a memory.”
Dr Daniel Katz is a board certified urologist specializing in Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery at Premier Medical Group’s Women’s Center for Continence and Sexual Health located in Poughkeepsie. To make an appointment please call # (845) 437-5000