Getting up at night to pee is really annoying, not just for you but your partner. It disrupts your sleep and can turn it the night into a frustrating nightmare stuck on a never-ending repeat button. So what can you do about it?
Firstly, take comfort from the fact you are not alone. Millions of people world-wide suffer from what the medical profession terms an “overactive bladder” and it becomes more common as you age, although it is not inevitable.
Overactive bladder (OAB) as a chronic condition that causes sudden urges to urinate, stemming from bladder muscle contractions. This can happen at any time, day or night, regardless of the amount of urine in the bladder.
Having an accident like leaking a few drops or even more before you can make it to the toilet is a warning sign.
The majority of people should not need to urinate more than eight times in a 24-hour period on a regular basis.
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OAB is a common condition affecting 30 per cent of men and 40 per cent of women and also one of the top 10 chronic medical issues that affect women between 45 and 64 years of age. Yet 80 per cent of people don’t seek treatment, according to Pharmacy Times.
There are also some simple steps you can take to try and tame your overactive bladder. The important thing is to recognise you have an issue and to be proactive, including being honest with your doctor about it.
If you have a very mild problem, avoid drinking too much fluid just before going to bed, although curtailing your liquid intake too much overall can actually irritate your bladder further.
Some foods and drinks can make your symptoms worse, so cut down on these – or even avoid them altogether – if you can: spicy foods, citrus fruits and juices, tomatoes/tomato products, coffee and tea, alcoholic beverages and chocolate.
There are also patches for women and and drug-free dietary supplements available from your pharmacist which can help, plus several prescription-only medicines that relax the bladder and prevent it from contracting.
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Urology.org says one useful exercise can be a bladder diary, which tracks your trips to the bathroom for a few days to help you understand the pattern to your symptoms, i.e. if they are better or worse after drinking specific foods or liquids. You can then avoid the relevant foods or liquids.
Other useful techniques can be “double voiding”, which basically means waiting a few seconds after emptying your bladder and then trying again.
Your doctor may also ask you to do timed urination and bladder retraining exercises, such as holding off going to the bathroom until set times each day, and “quick flick” exercises of your pelvic floor muscles that can help you relax your bladder muscle when it contracts.
Correct diagnosis is not only important because it can help identify how to go about taming your overactive bladder, but because some related symptoms can indicate an underlying problem like diabetes or a urinary track infection.
How many times a night do you get up to go to the loo? If you have an overactive bladder, what have you tried? Any tips or tricks in addition to the above?