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For truck drivers, an overactive bladder is more than an inconvenience

An overactive bladder can be a debilitating problem for a professional truck driver as washroom facilities are not always readily available.

An overactive bladder can be a debilitating problem for a professional truck driver as washroom facilities are not always readily available.

This condition is characterized by the frequent, sudden and intense urge to urinate. In most cases, people suffering from an overactive bladder will urinate more than nine times in 24 hours and will urinate more than two times a night. However, once identified, an overactive bladder is a very treatable condition.

In order to understand this condition, it is necessary to become familiar with the urinary system. This system consists of the kidneys, bladder and specialized nerves and muscles. The process begins in the kidneys which produce urine. From there, the urine drains into the bladder through a pair of tubes. From the bladder, the urine exits the body though short tubes called the urethra.   

As urine fills the bladder, it expands to accommodate the extra volume from the kidneys. Nerve endings located in the bladder tell the brain that your bladder is starting to fill and you feel a slight urge to urinate. As the bladder continues to fill in volume, the urge to urinate increases. During the act of urination, muscles in the pelvic floor and bladder contract and relax forcing the urine out of the bladder.

An overactive bladder occurs when the muscles in the bladder contract involuntarily thus causing the urgent need to urinate.
There are several causes of an overactive bladder, which include neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, urinary tract infections, excess alcohol or caffeine consumption and certain types of medications. However, in some cases no specific cause is identified.

Although an overactive bladder is not a life-threatening condition, it can significantly disrupt or reduce the overall quality of a person’s life. Recent studies have shown that people who are suffering from an overactive bladder are more likely to experience depression, emotional distress and sleep disturbances.

It is important to seek medical attention if you feel that you have an overactive bladder. In most cases, your doctor will be able to diagnose this condition after conducting a detailed medical history and physical examination. If necessary, your doctor may refer you for more sophisticated diagnostic testing.

If you are diagnosed with an overactive bladder, your doctor will recommend a combination of treatment options to help reduce or alleviate your symptoms. First of all, behaviour modifications such as fluid consumption and bladder training are a good place to start. Pelvic floor muscle training called Kegel exercises are also commonly recommended. The purpose of these exercises is to strengthen the muscles that are responsible for holding the urine in the bladder. It may take up to 10 weeks to see results in your symptoms.

Medications that relax the muscles in the bladder have also been shown to reduce the symptoms of an overactive bladder.
Finally, if all other conservative treatment options have failed, surgery may be considered. The goal of this type of surgery is to increase the volume of urine that can be stored in the bladder. This is a fairly invasive procedure and requires significant recovery time.

Alternative therapies such as biofeedback and acupuncture may also be helpful in reducing symptoms. However, it is important to consult with your doctor before beginning any of them.

Although it is not possible to completely prevent an overactive bladder, healthy lifestyle choices such as daily exercise, limiting consumption of caffeine and alcohol and avoiding tobacco seem to reduce the risk of this condition. Keep these simple tips in mind and you will be well on your way to a healthy bladder. Until next month, drive safely!

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