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Advice on Living with Incontinence

Irritable Bladder Syndrome: Causes, Symptoms & Treatments

More common among women, Irritable Bladder Syndrome involves ongoing involuntary contractions of the bladder, which can cause severe Urge Incontinence and significant, uncontrolled urine loss. There is no room for ignorance when it comes to bladder problems, and you should always see your doctor if you experience any symptoms.

Published by vuthy thach
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What is Irritable Bladder Syndrome?

Irritable Bladder (sometimes referred to as Irritable Bladder Syndrome) is the term used for the ongoing issue of the bladder suddenly and uncontrollably contracting. Despite best conscious efforts, this often leads to a significant urine void and can happen when you’re awake or asleep. 

It’s important to understand some of the symptoms of this condition and what causes it so you can be prepared to manage any unwelcomed leaks.


What are the symptoms of Irritable Bladder?

Our body will usually provide signs and symptoms, and you may experience some of the these mentioned below:

  • A sudden and urgent need to urinate
  • Uncontrollable voiding
  • The frequent need to urinate – day and night
  • An uncomfortable abdomen, including distention and bladder pressure
  • Pain or a burning sensation when urinating


What is not an Irritable Bladder?

If the symptoms are the result of an infection, such as a UTI (Urinary Tract Infection), it can be resolved with antibiotics so isn’t ‘on-going’ and therefore not categorised as Irritable Bladder Syndrome.

What are the causes of Bladder Irritation?

Several underlying conditions may be the cause or be contributing to an Irritable Bladder.

  • Interstitial Cystitis (also called Painful Bladder Syndrome) is a chronic condition where the messages sent from the brain to urinate are frequent and urgent, even though there’s only a small volume of urine to void.
  • Conditions that impact the nervous system that controls bladder function, such as Parkinson’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, stroke or spinal injury can lead to the bladder becoming over or under active.
  • Bladder cancer.
  • A bladder obstruction. This is more likely to be experienced by men with prostate issues but can also be caused by bladder stones which develop when minerals in concentrated urine crystallise.
  • Bladder spasms or an overactive bladder.
  • Dehydration which leads to more concentrated urine and further bladder irritation

In many cases, frustratingly, a cause of irritable bladder cannot be identified.

How is Irritable Bladder Syndrome diagnosed?

A doctor will typically start with your medical history and a physical examination. You’ll most likely be asked to provide a urine sample to test for signs of infection.

If this proves negative, you may be referred for imaging to see what’s going on inside, specifically the angle of the urethra, the bladder itself and in some instances, what’s happening when you urinate.

You may also be asked to keep a diary of when and how much you void, as well as noting symptoms like pain and discomfort.

Again, just be aware that despite investigations, it is not uncommon for no cause to be found.

What are the treatments of Irritable Bladder Syndrome?

  • If you are experiencing any of the symptoms described, see your doctor. If the issue is an infection, it’s unlikely to resolve itself and antibiotics will need to be prescribed. Once the infection is gone, so too should the incontinence. If it’s not an infection, other causes will be investigated. Anti-spasmodic medications, which help control the involuntary contractions, may be prescribed to ease the condition.
  • Ensure you’re drinking plenty of water. Many people with continence issues instinctively reduce their water intake in an attempt to minimise the volume of urine, however, this only serves to increase the concentration which can in turn, irritate the bladder even further.
  • Adopt Good Bladder Habits and avoid Food and Drinks that are known to exacerbate some people’s irritable bladder.
  • Discuss a referral to a continence nurse or continence physiotherapist with your doctor. These health care professionals can assist with bladder retraining techniques as well as exercises to improve bladder control.


How to manage Bladder Irritation in the meantime?

The amount of involuntary urine loss from Irritable Bladder Syndrome can be substantial as control is significantly compromised. While you seek treatment or if bladder retraining is underway, you may find an absorbent product specifically designed to handle the thin, fast flow caused by a bladder contraction practical.

Take advantage of TENA’s Free Samples to find which product and level of absorbency that best suits your requirements. You can order up to three free samples at a time.

For social situations, consider something from the TENA Pants range for women and men

. Designed to look and feel just like regular underwear, they’re very absorbent, keeping you dry and comfortable. They’re also close fitting so incredibly discreet under clothing.

And again, if you are suffering from any symptoms associated with an Irritable Bladder, you must see your doctor.


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Asaleo Care makes no warranties or representations regarding the completeness or accuracy of the information. This information should be used only as a guide and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional, medical or other health professional advice.