Botox helps women with overactive bladders
Botox is widely used to treat pesky fine lines and wrinkles, but what about using it to treat an overactive bladder?
Dr. Denise Elser, urogynecologist at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Ill., says an FDA-approved, simple office procedure using Botox injections has proven successful in resolving bladder problems. Botox works by relaxing muscles and blocking nerve impulses to muscles.
“Botox is highly effective in more than eighty percent of overactive bladder patients,” Dr. Elser says. “Injection of Botox is used in the office for women who have not found relief from oral medication.”
Overactive bladder is a condition marked by an urgent need to use the restroom. Dr. Elser says that women should see their physician when they feel the need to use the bathroom with abnormal frequency. She adds that it’s particularly important when the problem has reached a point where quality of life is impacted by fear of not finding a restroom quickly enough.
In a 2013 FDA announcement, Dr. Hylton Joffe, director of the Division of Reproductive and Urologic Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said, “Clinical studies have demonstrated Botox’s ability to significantly reduce the frequency of urinary incontinence.” The FDA further explains that the bladder relaxes when Botox is injected into the bladder muscle, which in turn increases the bladder’s storage capacity and lessens episodes of going to the bathroom.
“This office procedure to inject Botox into the bladder is very routine,” Dr. Elser explains. “A very thin telescope is placed through the bladder opening, and the Botox medication is injected into the bladder while the physician peers through the telescope to monitor accurate placement of the medication. This procedure takes just five to ten minutes, and no sedation is required.”
To prevent a bladder from becoming overactive, Dr. Elser suggests the following steps:
- Avoid irritating acidic drinks such as sodas or caffeine.
- Limit consumption of alcohol, since it can be a bladder irritant.
- Consume enough fiber to stave off constipation, which can lead to an overactive bladder.
- Maintain a moderate weight because excess weight can put a significant amount of pressure on the bladder.
About the Author
Julie Nakis, health enews contributor, is manager of public affairs at Advocate Children's Hospital. She earned her BA in communications from the University of Iowa – Go Hawkeyes! In her free time, she enjoys spending time with friends and family, exploring the city and cheering on the Chicago Cubs and Blackhawks.