Overactive bladder (OAB) involves a frequent and sudden urge to urinate that is often difficult to control. OAB may make you feel that you have to urinate constantly throughout the day and may even lead to urgency incontinence (unintentional urine loss). The symptoms of OAB can be embarrassing and disrupt your life. In some cases, you may isolate yourself and avoid activities that you once enjoyed. It’s important to discuss any OAB symptoms with your doctor to determine if there is an underlying cause of your bladder symptoms that can be successfully treated. The good news is that often OAB can be managed with some simple lifestyle changes, and if lifestyle changes are not effective on their own, there are additional options for nocturia treatment that are available to help control your symptoms and improve your quality of life.
What is Nocturia?
If you suffer with OAB it is likely that you also suffer with nocturia, meaning that you wake up more than twice each night to urinate, which disturbs your sleep cycle. Not only that, if you are a sound sleeper or unable to make it to the bathroom in time, you may even be wetting the bed. Nocturia can significantly disturb your sleep, leaving you tired, sluggish and cranky the next day.
It’s important to remember that nocturia can be caused by other medical conditions, so it is important to speak to your doctor about your symptoms to rule out other conditions that may be causing your frequent nighttime urination.
Symptoms of Nocturia and OAB at Night
If you suffer with OAB you may experience the following symptoms:
- A sudden urge to urinate that is often difficult to control.
- Urgency incontinence (unintentional loss of urine).
- Frequent urination (typically more than eight times per day).
- Nocturia (urinating more than twice per night).
Causes of OAB
The exact cause of OAB remains unknown; however, OAB occurs when the bladder muscles involuntarily contract, even when urine volume is low. These contractions create the feeling of needing to urinate.
Various conditions have been identified that may contribute to symptoms of OAB, including:
- Neurological disorders (multiple sclerosis, stroke).
- Hormonal changes during menopause.
- Bladder stones.
- Bladder tumors.
- Conditions that obstruct the flow of urine from the bladder (enlarged prostate, constipation, etc.).
- Urinary tract infections (UTI) symptoms mimic those of OAB.
Additionally, other factors have been found to be associated with OAB symptoms including:
- Significant caffeine or alcohol consumption.
- Decreasing cognitive function.
- Certain medications that need to be taken with water or those that increase urine production rapidly.
- Mobility issues that make it difficult to make it to the bathroom quickly.
- Incomplete voiding.
Nocturia Treatment Options
Various treatment options exist for OAB. If you are suffering with overactive bladder at night, here is how to stop frequent urination at night:
- Limit fluid intake for several hours before bed. This helps to make sure that your bladder is completely empty before lying down to sleep.
- Pee before heading to bed. Urinating right before bed can help to ensure your bladder is empty. Double voiding – peeing, waiting a couple of minutes and then peeing again — is recommended if you cannot get your bladder fully empty on the first try.
- Avoid your food and drink triggers. Keeping a food diary can help to identify food or drinks that irritate your bladder. Some of the more common food triggers include caffeine (coffee, tea, chocolate, etc.), alcohol, spicy foods, soda, tomato-based products, citrus juices, cranberry juice and artificial sweeteners.
- Practice Kegels. This exercise strengthens the muscles of your pelvic floor and also allows your bladder to relax when you have to pee. The exercise is simple – squeeze the muscles that you use to control the flow of urine, hold for a few seconds, then relax. Repeat this exercise several times throughout the day.
- Bladder retraining. Set a urination schedule to pee at certain times during the day and stick to the schedule. Over time you will retrain your bladder to hold more urine. As your bladder improves, space out your urination intervals.
If lifestyle changes are not making enough of a significant impact on your OAB symptoms, talk to your doctor about medication options to help improve your OAB symptoms and your sleep, including:
- Onabotulinumtoxin-A injection (Botox).
- Trospium Chloride.
If you suffer with overactive bladder at night, there are a variety of things you can do to control your symptoms and improve your sleep, including lifestyle changes and medications options. The first step is recognizing the problem and then speaking to your doctor about your symptoms. This will help to get you on the right track towards a better night’s sleep.