As we discussed last week, OAB is a condition associated with urinary urgency, frequency, nighttime voids, and sometimes uncontrolled leakage of urine.

If the described symptoms sound familiar, and you are sick and tired of living with them, there is a solution! I will share with you several simple adjustments that can significantly improve your symptoms.

First of all, it is important to establish the baseline of your symptoms because it will give you an opportunity to assess the effect of interventions.

How do you learn about your baseline?

A bladder diary is a simple way to record your daily bladder behavior. It includes an area to record how much you drink, an area to record bathroom trips, and an area to mark any urinary leaks and their amount. It’s helpful to keep the diary for at least two days to assess the baseline.

The link to the sample diary is attached below.

Start with evaluating the fluid you drink. It’s important to look at the type of fluid and its amount. Several types of drinks can make your urgency and frequency worse, for example coffee, drinks containing caffeine or artificial sweeteners, alcohol, sparkling water, and soda.

Unless you were told by your physician to drink large volumes of fluid, you should drink only when you’re thirsty. The simple way to assess how hydrated or dehydrated you are is to look at the color of your urine. The goal is to have light yellow colored urine. If it’s darker, you need to drink more; if it’s lighter or clear, you are drinking too much. Keep in mind that some food, medications, and exercise can affect the color of your urine.

If you struggle with getting up at night, make sure to stop drinking fluids three to four hours before bedtime. Women often ask me, “Can I have a glass of wine before bed?” or “I’m thirsty at night, can I drink more?” My answer is: Of course you can, just realize that the more fluid you drink, the more you will pee. So, pick your poison: A glass of wine and trips to the bathroom or no fluid and sleeping through the night. There is no right or wrong answer, choose based on what is more important to you. 

Also, keep in mind that fluids are not only in what you drink but also in what you eat. Foods like soups, salads, and fruits all contain fluid and should be accounted for.

The next intervention is timely voiding. Make sure to go to the bathroom every two hours whether you have an urge or not. This can prevent “unscheduled” accidents. If you usually go to the bathroom more than every two hours, you may benefit from bladder training.

How do you do bladder training? When you feel the urge to urinate, contract your pelvic floor muscles several times, and wait 10 minutes before going to the bathroom.

What is the easiest way to identify your pelvic floor muscles? Pretend that you are in public and are trying to hold gas. The muscles that you use are actually the exact same muscles that you would use to perform Kegel exercises and bladder training. Start with contracting your muscles and hold for 10 seconds and release—do this three times and wait 10 minutes before going to the bathroom. Increase the time between having the urge to actually go to the bathroom by five minutes every week until you reach the two hour mark.

When you change your drinking habits, do timely voids and bladder training to experiment and see if what you have accomplished actually made a difference, then complete the bladder diary again! 

If you still have symptoms that bother you despite these interventions, it’s time to see a specialist. It is not as scary as you might think. I will guide you!

If you want to improve the quality of your life and live the life you deserve, learn about what to expect at your first doctor’s appointment and how to better prepare for it in my next post.

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