Coping with an Overactive Bladder
Without fail, halfway through a movie you find yourself whispering “excuse me” to the people in your row as you creep your way toward the exit to use the bathroom. It might seem like you constantly feel the urge to urinate, but it doesn’t necessarily signal a serious medical condition, explains Betsy Greenleaf, DO, a urogynecologist based in New Jersey.
It might seem like a lot, but using the restroom an average of eight times per day is considered normal.
“Anything above that would be considered frequent and something you should discuss with your doctor,” Dr. Greenleaf says.
Focusing on preventive care, Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine, or DOs, look beyond your symptoms to consider how environmental and lifestyle factors impact your health. They are trained to listen and partner with you to help you not only get healthy, but stay well.
Dr. Greenleaf offers insights on what could be causing all those trips to the bathroom.
Blame a Small Bladder
Just like some people are short and others are tall, some people are born with a smaller bladder. However, when your bladder is full it can stretch to hold more fluid.
“You don’t have to run to the bathroom every time you feel the urge. Depending on how long you hold it, you can stretch out the bladder and be able to hold more,” says Dr. Greenleaf.
If you give in to the urge too often, that can actually exacerbate your problem.
Or an Overactive Bladder
If you feel a sudden urge to urinate that is difficult to control, an overactive bladder could be the culprit. Your risk for developing an overactive bladder increases with age.
“As we age, we shrink, causing the discs in the back to compress and push on the nerves that control the bladder,” Dr. Greenleaf says.
When to See a Physician
While it might be tempting to chalk up frequent urination as part of getting older, it’s time to see the doctor if:
- You need to urinate more than eight times per day.
- You get up two or more times during the night to urinate.
- The need to use the bathroom disrupts your ability to work and to enjoy everyday activities.
Dr. Greenleaf says frequent urination also could be a symptom of other conditions, such as a tumor in the abdomen, cancers of the bladder, or diseases like diabetes.
“It is best to see your physician to determine what is causing frequent urination and, if there is an underlying medical reason, partner with your physician to determine the best course of action,” Dr. Greenleaf adds.