How to Treat OAB
Treatments for overactive bladder (OAB)
It is recommended that non-drug, behavioural modification techniques should first be used to manage OAB. However, behavioural techniques alone might not be enough in OAB management; in which case, prescription medicine is required. In fact, higher rates of treatment success have been attributed to using behavioural and prescription therapies in combination.
A class of drugs called anticholinergic agents is commonly used to treat patients suffering from OAB. These agents work by stopping the bladder muscle from contracting too early, allowing the bladder to fill completely. Consequently, you may experience less urgency, fewer accidents and make fewer trips to the bathroom.
Medications already approved for OAB in Canada include:
- Vesicare® (solifenacin succinate);
- Detrol LA® (tolterodine tartrate extended-release capsules);
- Ditropan XL® (oxybutynin chloride extended-release tablets);
- Oxytrol™ (oxybutynin transdermal system);
- Trosec™ (trospium chloride);
- Enablex™ (darifenacin);
- Uromax® (controlled release oxybutynin); and
- Generic oxybutynin.
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Talking to a healthcare professional about OAB
A number of healthcare professionals may be involved in the diagnosis, treatment and management of OAB, including:
- General practitioners / Family doctors
- Nurse Continence Advisors
Together, you and the healthcare professional represent the most effective partnership in taking control of OAB and improving your overall quality of life. Opening up the lines of communication is the first step to managing your condition. It’s important to ask questions and seek advice from a healthcare professional.
Speak to a healthcare professional if you:
- Experience a strong and sudden urge to urinate that is difficult to put off.
- Worry that you won’t make it to the bathroom in time.
- Experience involuntary leaking of urine that may be accompanied or preceded by urgency - the need to go to the bathroom now.
- Feel you are going to the bathroom too often during the day.
Tell the healthcare professional how your symptoms affect your life:
- Does it feel like you are always going to the bathroom?
- Does the urge to go to the bathroom come on very quickly, and you sometimes worry that you will not make it in time?
- How has having to go to the bathroom frequently affected your life - especially if it has caused you to stop doing things you would like to do?
- Do you avoid going to new places (such as movie theatres or malls) or participating in sports or recreational activities because you fear you will have trouble finding the bathrooms?
Things to remember on your next doctor visit
- The doctor or nurse that is treating you has cared for many patients with OAB. No matter how embarrassed you may feel or how uncomfortable the symptoms may be to you, it will not surprise your doctor. Your doctor is there to help you.
- Don’t forget to ask if you require a follow-up visit. If yes, when? If you are meeting with your family doctor you may wish to ask as to whether you should see a specialist such as a urologist.
- Prepare to describe your symptoms: the more the healthcare professional knows, the more effective the doctor will be in assessing your symptoms and making recommendations.
- Bring a list of all of the medications (including herbal medications) you are taking and don't forget to make note of vitamins and other supplements. Write down the dose(s) and how often you take them. Also, bring a list of the fluids you drink.
Helpful Questions to Ask
- What might be causing my symptoms?
- How do I treat these symptoms – what are my options and what would you recommend for me?
- Can my symptoms be managed by diet and lifestyle modifications?
- Are there prescription medications to treat OAB?
- How long will it take before I see an improvement in my symptoms with this medication?
- What can I do to achieve the best results during treatment?
- Should I avoid any specific foods, liquids or activities while taking this treatment?
- Will this treatment interfere with other medications I am currently taking?
- Does this medication have any side effects?