Overactive bladder and lifestyle changes

If there’s one condition that makes everyday life difficult for an adult, it’s an overactive bladder.

When you feel the urge to urinate too frequently, the stress can disrupt your sleep—and your sex life. 

You may be familiar with overactive bladder symptoms, but you’re wondering about overactive bladder causes. 

Keep reading! We’ll tell you all about overactive bladders (also called OABs), focusing on nine lifestyle changes you can make to relieve OAB symptoms.

Why Do Adults Get an Overactive Bladder (OAB)?

A combination of symptoms causes OAB, making adults need to urinate more often than usual. 

If you’re going to the bathroom 8-9 times a day (or more), or your urge to urinate seems out of your control, it could be OAB.

Incontinence during the day or at night or getting out of bed to urinate are other symptoms of an overactive bladder.

Is OAB a Common Condition Among Adults?

More adult women than men have OAB, but it affects nearly 15% of Canadian men annually. Physicians in Canada also believe this percentage may be higher because some men don’t approach their doctors about this health concern.

OAB Facts

When you’re experiencing OAB, stress can make you question what you’re going through.

Here are essential facts to know about an overactive bladder.

  • Men can experience OAB without having a prostate problem.
  • Aging is not a contributor to men getting OAB.
  • You can effectively treat OAB without undergoing surgery.
  • Simple lifestyle changes can improve your OAB significantly.

Overactive Bladder Symptoms

Before we list the typical OAB symptoms, let’s mention that occasional incontinence isn’t a symptom of an overactive bladder.

Anytime you laugh too hard, you might leak a bit of urine—that’s natural! 

Also, it’s important not to fight any urge to urinate at any time. This action can also result in leakage, even if you don’t have OAB. 

Generally, OAB symptoms are more frequent and urgent: 

  • A person feels the urgent need to pee uncontrollably.
  • Urine leakage occurs every day.
  • Urination occurs 8-9 times daily, or even more.
  • Sleep is disrupted more than once per night to urinate.

A person with OAB may have all of these symptoms or just one.

Symptoms vary between people, and symptoms can change. That’s why it’s essential to get a doctor or specialist’s help in diagnosing OAB.

Overactive bladder symptoms

Overactive Bladder Causes Explained

Most cases of OAB occur when the smooth muscle fibres in the bladder’s walls get injured or affected by illness. 

Causes of OAB may include:

Damaged Nerves

Traumas to the pelvic area may damage nerves and can cause OAB. These include herniated discs, pelvic or back surgery, or radiation treatment for cancer. 

Parkinson’s Disease, a stroke, or multiple sclerosis are medical conditions that cause nerve damage and may cause OAB as a side effect.

Stimulants or Medications

Substances like caffeine or certain medications can dilute the bladder and cause a leak. Alcohol can numb your brain and cause your bladder to overflow. 


A urinary tract infection (UTI) may irritate nerves in the bladder and force a person to urinate.

Extra Weight

An overweight body can put too much pressure on the bladder, causing urgent incontinence.

Enlarged Prostate

While an enlarged prostate isn’t the only cause of OAB, it’s a primary cause for many men. That’s because the swollen gland interrupts and then forces urine flow, causing incontinence.

Treatment for Overactive Bladder

The best news is OAB is treatable!

Some people find one treatment improves their OAB, while others may try several treatments simultaneously. Every experience is different, so don’t get discouraged. 

Let’s talk about effective non-surgical treatments for OAB:

9 Lifestyle Changes for OAB

You read that right—effective non-surgical OAB treatments start with simple lifestyle changes and techniques.

Specialists call this behaviour therapy, but there’s nothing too tricky about it, and there are no side effects. 

Behaviour therapies include:

#1 Reducing Weight and Improving Symptoms

Your bladder can get seriously irritated by some foods or drinks. 

Diuretics like alcohol or caffeine naturally encourage the bladder to produce more urine, but too much may result in OAB. Likewise, soft drinks and other fizzy drinks can make OAB worse.

If you’re concerned about giving up what you enjoy, try eliminating or restricting some foods and beverages.

Cutting back on food and drinks that irritate your symptoms may help you to lose weight. A healthy weight is essential in controlling OAB!

#2 A Diet to Manage OAB

diet for OAB

One addition you can make to your diet is to eat more fibre.

Oatmeal and whole grains are beneficial, as are fresh (or dried) fruits and a good intake of vegetables daily. Beans are also a healthy source of fibre. 

That said, tangy citrus fruits and tomato-based foods may aggravate bladder issues even more. Chocolate is another culprit, and spicy foods can wreak havoc on your system.

#3 Track Your OAB in a Diary

It helps keep track of your bathroom habits for several days in a row. You can also record your food and drink intake. This way, you may see things that are worsening your symptoms.

#4 Double Voiding Isn’t Hard to Do

It sounds funny, but double voiding is going to the bathroom, waiting a few seconds, and trying again. It effectively empties the bladder twice, and it can be helpful for OAB.

#5 Delay Voiding if a Specialist Recommends It

Some specialists may suggest that you practice withholding urination for a few minutes, working up to a few hours. However, this technique isn’t helpful for everyone and may cause OAB to worsen if it’s not right for you.

#6 Make an Appointment to Go

You can train your body to go at the same time every day instead of waiting until the urge becomes too much.

#7 Casual Use of a Catheter

Periodic catheter use can assist your bladder in emptying. A doctor or specialist should tell you if this technique will be helpful in your case.

#8 Biofeedback

This modern approach to OAB uses painless electrical sensors attached to your body to measure and record valuable information. This information can teach you how to manage your OAB and what techniques are most helpful in treating it. 

#9 Pelvic Floor Muscle Exercises

Your bladder is a muscle, and pelvic floor exercises go a long way in strengthening your body, including your urinary sphincter. These are also called Kegel exercises

When performed correctly and regularly under the guidance of a trained physiotherapist, you can stop involuntary leakage and effectively treat OAB with exercise.

Kegel exercises to treat overactive bladder

Proven Solutions, Real Results from Oakwood Health Network

Overactive bladder affects many men. At Oakwood Health Network (OHN), we understand overactive bladder causes!

The most important thing to do is to talk to your doctor or a specialist about overactive bladder symptoms. Or, if you prefer, schedule your free and confidential consultation with us.

OHN would love to work with you in developing an effective treatment plan for your OAB!

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