Definition & clinical picture:
An overactive bladder is a medical term used for a pathological condition, that is characterised by a pattern of sudden, involuntary contractions of the urinary bladder wall muscles, leading to a sudden and unstoppable need to pass urine, irrespective of the quantity present in the bladder. It is also called as ‘urge incontinence’ and is more common in women compared to men. It is estimated that at least 20% of the elderly population (above 70 yrs of age) is affected by it.
Thus a patient who suffers from an overactive bladder will get a recurrent urge to pass urine even though there is not much left in the bladder to pass. Or in other words, there would be a constant sensation of an overfilled bladder although nothing has accumulated in the bladder in real.
The most common symptoms include a recurrent urge to pass urine, urgency of urination, increased frequency of urination during night time and incontinence of urine especially while coughing , or sneezing, or laughing aloud. An overactive bladder can cause a significant degree of physical, social as well as psychological problem for the individual.
Causes & Mechanism:
The primary disturbance lies in the nerves and the muscles of the urinary bladder. Usually a signal is sent to the brain when bladder gets filled with urine to a specific quantity (approx 350-500 ml). The chief muscle of bladder contraction is named as detrusor, which responds to the signals from the higher nerve centres to contract the bladder. Voluntary control of the sphincter muscles at the opening of the bladder controls the urination at will. In case of an overactive bladder, there is an inappropriate contraction of the detrusor muscle regardless of the amount of urine.
The most common causes include:
- Urinary tract infection
- Renal calculi
- Senility or aging
- Diabetic neuropathy
- Prostate enlargement
- Prostatic surgery
- Multiple pregnancies
- Spinal cord injury
- Parkinson’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis
Apart from the medicines (anticholinergics) that can increase the tone of the bladder muscles, certain pelvic muscle rehabilitation programmes like ‘Kegel exercises’ are used to improve the pelvic muscle tone and prevent leakage. Pelvic-floor electrical stimulation too can help few patients. Behavioural therapists can assist with bladder training.
Most of the medications have some common side effects including dryness of mouth, constipation, blurry vision and confusion (especially in the elderly population). To avoid such adverse effects, one can definitely take help of gentler yet equally effective therapies like Homeopathy and Bach Flower Therapy.
A well selected homeopathic remedy based on the individual symptom picture will act as effectively as any other medicinal options. Remedies like Cantharis, Lycopodium, Sepia and Belladona are used quite frequently in these patients. These remedies can be supported by patient’s constitutional remedy, based on the analysis of the individuality at physical, emotional and intellectual sphere.
Rescue remedy, a wonder combination from the Bach flower essences, has done wonders in relieving the acute discomfort and anxiety, especially during a sudden aggravation or precipitation of the symptoms during an important meeting or programme. Though one can try Rescue remedy as an ‘over-the-counter’ medication, a word of caution is necessary to try homeopathic medicines on your own. It is always wise to consult a professional to select the best one for you.