What are the treatments for irritable bladder?

Written by jon mohrman
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An irritable or overactive bladder causes frequent urination (usually more than eight times a day) and incontinence. Though there are no real health concerns associated with irritable bladder, treatment becomes necessary when the condition disrupts sleep and daily activities or causes embarrassment, stress or depression.

Behavioural Treatments

Often, these suffice to treat an irritable bladder. Timing and limiting fluid consumption, eating more fibre, practicing double voiding (emptying the bladder a second time shortly after the first), bladder training, urination schedules and pelvic muscle exercises may all help.


Medication may be used to treat symptoms, often in conjunction with behavioural treatments, when necessary. Prescriptions for treating an overactive bladder include tolterodine, oxybutynin, trospium, solifenacin and darifenacin


This botulinum toxin, commonly associated with cosmetic procedures, paralyses muscles when injected into tissue. While using Botox to treat the incontinence associated with an irritable bladder is becoming more common, this is not an FDA-approved use, and results last about half a year or less.

Sacral Nerve Stimulation

This surgical procedure can greatly reduce the symptoms of an overactive bladder. A wire is placed on the sacral nerves between the spine and bladder tissue to send controlled electrical impulses to the bladder (using a principle similar to pacemakers).

Augmentation Cystoplasty

This is a major operation that uses pieces of the bowel to enlarge the bladder. This treatment has serious potential side effects, often requiring life-long intermittent use of a catheter, and is reserved for the most severe cases that do not respond to any other treatment.

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