Weak bladder: causes, symptoms and treatments

Woman urinating

HAVE you ever wondered why you have the need to urinate frequently? You could be suffering from a weak bladder. Dr. Solomon Ismail from Emndeni, north of Soweto, describes having a weak bladder as a result of Overactive Bladder (OAB) syndrome where a person frequently feels like urinating. This happens when your mind reads your bladder contractions as an urgent need to urinate. If you have dry OAB, you’ll make it to the bathroom on time but it can cause a lot of worry and anxiety. But if you have the wet form of overactive bladder, you may not always make it to the bathroom without wetting yourself. A weak bladder problem can affect both males and females but it is more common with females during menopause, pregnancy, and after giving birth.


Dr. Solomon says when you feel a sudden urge to urinate that is difficult to control, then you might be experiencing a weak bladder problem. When you urinate frequently, usually eight or more times in 24 hours, that alone is cause for concern. When you are forced to wake up twice or more at night to urinate, this could be another good reason to visit your doctor or clinic. Studies also show that many women leak urine when they exercise, laugh hard, cough or sneeze. Female athletes sometimes have urine leakage during strenuous sports activities.


“Not all bladder control problems are the same. Some are caused by weak muscles and others by damaged nerves. Sometimes the cause may be the medication that a person is taking, which can affect their nerves,” says Dr. Solomon. Weak muscles: For women, bladder problems may be caused by pelvic muscles that become stretched and weak during pregnancy and childbirth. Damaged nerves: This happens when damaged nerves send signals to the bladder at the wrong time. As a result, a bladder contraction may push out urine without warning. Sometimes damaged nerves send no signals at all and the brain can’t tell when the bladder is full. Diseases that damage the nerves are usually

stroke and diabetes. Medicines, alcohol, and caffeine: Taking medication can affect your muscles or nerves. You may take medicine to calm your nerves so that you can relax and sleep. But they may dull the nerves in the bladder and keep them from telling the brain when the bladder is full. Without the message and the urge, the bladder overflows. Drinking too much coffee also makes the bladder full quickly, so limit your intake. Infection: A bladder infection can irritate bladder nerves and cause the bladder to squeeze without warning.

Dr. Solomon recommends the following remedies:


This type of exercise strengthens your pelvic floor muscles and can help you stop the bladder’s involuntary contractions. Your doctor or a physical therapist can help you learn how to do the exercises correctly. It may take as long as six to eight weeks of doing these exercises before you notice a difference.


Weight loss may help if you also have stress urinary incontinence (involuntary leakage of urine when sneezing, coughing or laughing).


Scheduling your toilet visits can help solve your problem. For example, you can go to the toilet every two to four hours. Urinate at the same time every day rather than wait until you feel the urge to urinate.


Medication that relaxes the bladder can be helpful for stopping the overactive bladder. However, people should consult with their doctors for the right medications to use but the most common ones are antibiotics for urinary tract infections.


Surgery to treat overactive bladder is reserved for people with severe symptoms who don’t respond to any other treatment. The goal of this surgery is to improve the bladder’s storing ability and reduce pressure in the bladder. If you decide to have this surgery, you may need to use a catheter (a flexible tube inserted through a narrow opening into a body cavity, particularly the bladder, to remove fluid such as urine) for the rest of your life.


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