This is the third segment of our blog topic, “The Bladder; A Diagram of Anatomy and Treatment.” In the previous blog entry we began listing forms of treatment, which are listed in this diagram in parenthesis. In the previous post we covered hydration, Prelief, antihistamines, and Elmiron. This is the continued list of treatments…
5) Estrogen is not just for hot flashes! Estrogen helps with overall health of your pelvic muscles, including the pelvic floor, the vagina, urethra, and bladder as well. As women age and estrogen levels drop, there’s an increased chance of developing bladder issues because pelvic floor muscles become weakened and don’t hold things in place as tight as they used to. To combat this, women can choose from a variety of Estrogen methods including sprays, patches, creams, and pills.
6) There are some women who have severe bladder symptoms but don’t actually have problems with their bladders. Some of these women have a nervous system problem that makes it hard for their bladder to communicate with their brain. The bladder might send a signal along the sensory nerves to the bladder that says, “I’ve got about 60 minutes before I need to go,” but the brain hears “I’ve got to be emptied now.” Then the brain sends a message along the motor nerves that says, “We’ve got to go now,” and you end up running for the bathroom. This, of course, is just a rough representation of a much more delicate system. By giving these women specific medications that help with the nervous system, we can repair the communication between the bladder and the brain and prevent unnecessary trips to the bathroom.
7) One of our newer treatments, the Tibial Nerve Therapy, stimulates the tibial nerve in hopes of helping the bladder. The tibial nerve runs from the ankle, through the leg, and up to the pelvic floor. We have found that by stimulating the tibial nerve with a small electrode in the ankle, we can provide some relief to patients. To read more about the Tibial Nerve Therapy, follow the link to a November, 2014 blog post.
8) One final treatment is more of a lifestyle change than a treatment– avoiding common trigger foods. Although it’s a simple idea to avoid the things that trigger urinary symptoms, it takes dedication. Some of the most triggering foods are: coffee, caffeine, soda or similar drinks, citrus fruits, tomatoes, fermented foods, artificial flavors and sweeteners, spicy foods, and condiments like mustard, ketchup, etc. ICHelp.org has put together a helpful list; to view or download it, click here.
Not all of these treatments and methods are necessary for every patient. Some ladies respond really well to dietary changes, so they may not feel like they need to try more aggressive methods. But many ladies who struggle with more severe or persistent symptoms may only find relief when several treatments are done in combination. Oftentimes, aggressive treatment is only necessary for a few months; and as the intensity of symptoms reduces, we can decrease treatment accordingly.
A final note: If you are currently taking any of these treatments (either from me or another doctor) and you feel like it’s not working, please come see me. Life does NOT have to revolve around the bathroom.