Treating Overactive Bladder Doesn’t Have To Be Overwhelming

Health Minute     Winter 2020

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Bladder leakage. What was a funny story among friends when one of us laughed too hard during a girls-night-in can turn into a more frequent, frustrating problem as we get a little older and one that is not only related to females.

An overactive bladder is a symptom of frequent and urgent needs to urinate. It’s sometimes associated with urinary incontinence, which means urinary leakage.

Overactive bladder is usually diagnosed after other concerns, such as infections and cancers, have been ruled out.

One treatment option for overactive bladder is BOTOX® injections.

“BOTOX itself is derived from the botulinum bacterium. It goes into the bladder and prevents nerve endings from releasing certain chemicals,” says Robert Kohut, MD, of Premier Health Urology, part of Premier Physician Network. “That prevents the muscle from contracting – similar for wrinkles that people inject into the face. The same thing can be done in the bladder.”

How the Procedure Works

Treating overactive bladder with BOTOX is minimally invasive, he says.

“We do it with a small camera, where I place a needle through the camera, and then the needle itself goes into the bladder muscle lining,” Dr. Kohut says. “We inject the medication that way.”

The whole procedure takes 15 to 20 minutes, and the treatment lasts between six and nine months.

You can get follow-up treatments when the BOTOX starts to wear off. You’ll know the BOTOX is wearing off because your overactive bladder symptoms will start to come back.

The procedure is more likely to be recommended for women than men because it is more difficult to perform on men.

Your health care provider might recommend BOTOX as a good treatment option for you if medications and behavior modifications haven’t worked to help with your overactive bladder.

Dr. Kohut says behavior modifications that your provider might have you try first could include:

  • Avoiding things that can irritate your bladder
  • Decreasing caffeinated beverages
  • Monitoring your fluid intake

Possible Side Effects

One downside of BOTOX treatments is the need to repeat them every few months. Some side effects of the treatment also could cause include bladder infections and a small amount of blood in your urine right after the treatment.

Another concern is urinary retention, in which your bladder retains too much urine. It’s a rare issue that happens less than 10 percent of the time BOTOX treatments are performed for overactive bladder.

“Prior to signing up to have BOTOX, you must be willing – if it were to happen, this rare complication – to perform catheterization on yourself,” Dr. Kohut says.

To learn more about BOTOX treatments for overactive bladder, talk to your doctor or health care provider or search for a provider.

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