For overactive bladder, you're likely to start by seeing your primary doctor. After your initial appointment, you may be referred to a specialist in urinary disorders in men and women (urologist), a specialist in urinary disorders in women (urogynecologist) or a specialist in physical therapy for diagnosis and treatment.
Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment, and what to expect from your doctor.
What you can do
- Keep a bladder diary for a few days, recording when, how much and what kind of fluids you consume, when you urinate, whether you feel an urge to urinate and whether you experience incontinence. A bladder diary may help determine why you have to get up to urinate at night.
- Note any other symptoms you're experiencing, particularly those related to your bowel function.
- Let your doctor know if you have diabetes, a neurological disease, or have had pelvic surgery or radiation treatments.
- Make a list of all the medications you take, as well as vitamins or supplements, as many medications can affect bladder function.
- Write down questions to ask your doctor.
For overactive bladder, basic questions might include:
- What are the possible causes of my symptoms?
- Is my urine clear?
- Do I empty my bladder well?
- Is my pelvic floor muscle strength good enough for me to keep my bladder from contracting when I have an abnormal urge?
- Do you recommend any other tests? Why?
- What treatments are available and which do you recommend for me?
- What types of side effects can I expect from treatment?
- Are there any dietary restrictions that could help?
- How do my other health problems affect my bladder symptoms?
- If I need to see a specialist, what can I expect?
- Is there a generic alternative to the medicine you're prescribing me?
- Are there brochures or other printed material that I can have? What websites do you recommend?
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor may use an overactive bladder questionnaire to make an assessment of your symptoms, asking questions such as:
Jan. 16, 2013
- How long have you had these symptoms?
- Do you unexpectedly leak urine? How often?
- What do your symptoms keep you from doing that you like to do?
- During daily activities, such as walking or bending over, do you leak urine?
- Marinkovic SP, et al. The management of overactive bladder syndrome. BMJ. 2012;344:e2365.
- South-Paul JE, et al. Current Diagnosis & Treatment in Family Medicine. 3rd ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2011. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=52. Accessed Dec. 19, 2012.
- Overactive bladder. American Urological Association. http://www.urologyhealth.org/urology/index.cfm?article=112. Accessed Dec. 19, 2012.
- What I need to know about bladder control for women. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. http://kidney.niddk.nih.gov/kudiseases/pubs/bcw_ez/. Accessed Dec. 19, 2012.
- Ellsworth PI, et al. Frequently asked questions in the evaluation and management of overactive bladder. Journal of Family Practice. 2009;58(suppl):s1.
- Treatment of overactive bladder in women. Rockville, Md.: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. http://www.ahrq.gov/downloads/pub/evidence/pdf/bladder/bladder.pdf. Accessed Dec. 19, 2012.
- DuBeau CE. Clinical presentation and diagnosis of urinary incontinence. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed Dec. 19, 2012.
- Urodynamic testing. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. http://kidney.niddk.nih.gov/kudiseases/pubs/urodynamic/. Accessed Dec. 19, 2012.
- DuBeau CE. Treatment of urinary incontinence. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed Dec. 19, 2012.
- Anger JT, et al. Outcomes of intravesical botulinum toxin for idiopathic overactive bladder symptoms: A systematic review of the literature. The Journal of Urology. 2010;183:2258.
- Lightner DJ (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Dec. 21, 2012.
- Subak LL, et al. Weight loss to treat urinary incontinence in overweight and obese women. New England Journal of Medicine. 2009;360:481.