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Overactive Bladder? There's Help For You
As seen in the New York Daily News Spotlight on Health column
by Dr. Rock Positano, 9/18/02

Do you have an overactive bladder? This condition, which may result in incontinence, affects nearly 17 million Americans, most of them women.

"Too often, physicians forget to ask patients about bladder symptoms, such as bladder leakage, overactive bladder, urinary frequency, urgency, burning, pain or bleeding," says women's health expert Dr. Donnica Moore. "The good news is that overactive bladder is treatable without diapers or surgery."

First, you must recognize the symptoms: Signs of overactive bladder include urinating more than eight times in 24 hours, including twice or more at night; a strong and sudden urge to urinate, and accidentally leaking urine.

"People with ... [overactive bladder] have bladder contractions they can't control, but this problem often controls them," explains Moore.

People with the syndrome find that they need to practice "toilet mapping" (knowing where all the rest rooms are throughout their daily routine) and defensive voiding (preventively going to the bathroom). They carry pads, diapers and changes of clothes; and they limit their activities to those they can navigate safely without accidents.

Despite the fact that bladder symptoms can be painful and embarrassing, most patients ignore them because they fear further embarrassment.

"Too many myths, misperceptions and misinformation influence how patients view bladder problems," says Moore.

For example, most adults are not aware that any urine leakage is abnormal.

"An overactive bladder is not a normal consequence of aging, of giving birth, or of menopause. It will not just go away without medical intervention," says Moore.

Overactive bladder problems can also cause people to suffer from low self-esteem, guilt, fear, anxiety or depression. One patient offered a personal description: "Incontinence won't kill you, but it can take your life."

Overactive bladder starts gradually and increases, often interfering with daily activities. Sleep is disturbed; work productivity declines.

"Overactive bladder affects everything from people's social lives to their sex lives," says Moore.

Once you recognize the symptoms, you need to consult your doctor. Treatments include behavioral changes, exercises, biofeedback, devices and medicines. Surgery is a last resort. With a comprehensive diagnosis and treatment approach, patients with overactive bladder can get relief from symptoms and regain control of their lives.

For more information on incontinence, click here.

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