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It's Time to Treat Overactive Bladder

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7 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your OAB Medication

  • Doctor talking to patient in doctor's office
    Talking With Your Doctor About Your OAB Medicine
    If you need medication for overactive bladder, also called OAB, it’s important you and your doctor have a discussion about your treatment goals, as well as cost and potential side effects, before you start. Setting realistic expectations is key; a large number of patients who begin treatment for OAB stop taking it within six months because they are disappointed with their results. But OAB medication can be beneficial—there are a number of things you should consider to get the most out of your medication.
  • Doctor reviewing medical record with patient in office
    1. Be Open About Costs
    Many doctors don’t discuss costs of medication with their patients and many are just unaware. Likewise, patients are often reluctant to initiate this sort of discussion with their doctor. Average monthly costs for OAB meds can range from $24 to over $300 per month. While patients may want the newest drug on the market, there is often little research in the way of head-to-head comparisons to support a newer or more expensive drug. Overall, there are often only small differences in terms of effectiveness between all of the different drugs your doctor might prescribe.
  • doors of men's and women's public bathroom
    2. Be Realistic About Outcomes
    Medication will decrease trips to the bathroom by 3 to 5 times per day and episodes of incontinence by 1 to 2 times per day. Many patients think starting medication for OAB will lead to total resolution of symptoms like an antibiotic treating an infection. But, while everyone responds differently to medication, research studies show that you are unlikely to become completely symptom-free from an OAB medication treatment. 
  • Doctor explaining prescription medication to patient in clinic
    3. Ask About Older Medications
    Many people think newer means better when considering medications. However, your doctor likely has more experience with older medications, knows more about older medications’ interactions with other medications, and has more practice using it as a treatment. Older drug safety history is also clearer, while unknown post-marketing side effects occur all the time with new drugs. That said, some newer medications may be more effective and have better side effect profiles for you.

    Consider asking your doctor about an older, less expensive drug. If there is not a reason justifying a newer, more expensive drug (e.g., side effects), it might be reasonable to start treatment with an older drug and see if it provides relief.
  • Prescription Drugs
    4. Ask About Generics
    More than 75% of medications prescribed in the U.S. are generic. When a drug company’s patent lapses, other companies are able to manufacture a new, generic drug based on the original patented drug. While the time period varies, the non-generic formulation will be on the market for at least 12 to 15 years. Generics are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and have strict performance and manufacturing requirements just like the original drug. Generics are more affordable and some meds for OAB may be available for less than $30 per month.
  • Female patient filling out paperwork in examination room
    5. Keep Good Records
    Overactive bladder is a chronic problem that you will likely have for some time. As a result, it’s important that any new doctor you see or specialist that you are referred to is aware of your diagnosis and past treatment history. For example, you do not want a doctor to start you on a drug that you didn’t tolerate or that didn’t work for you.
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  • Woman reading prescription bottle label at laptop
    6. Know the Facts and Make Sure You Understand Them
    If you and your doctor decide a medication is best for you, make sure you understand the dose and all of the potential side effects. Make sure you also discuss your own preferences with your physician. Some drugs are taken once a day while others need to be taken several times per day. When you pick up the drugs at the pharmacy, ask if the new medication could interfere with any of your other prescriptions. Finally, if the new drug does not have the desired outcome, be sure to discuss this with your doctor as soon as you can.
  • Nurse and patient using digital tablet
    7. Talk With Your Doctor About Lifestyle Modifications
    One of the best ways to not have to worry about costs or side effects of medications is to not be on medication at all. People with mild OAB symptoms and infrequent incontinence may not need as much medication, or any at all. Examples of dietary and other modifications you can discuss with your doctor include: avoiding foods and drinks (e.g., alcohol or caffeine) that worsen symptoms, increasing fiber to improve bowl habits, losing weight, doing Kegel exercises, using biofeedback, and practicing timed voiding. You might consider discussing medication if lifestyle modifications fail.
7 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your OAB Medication
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THIS CONTENT DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. This content is provided for informational purposes and reflects the opinions of the author. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of a qualified healthcare professional regarding your health. If you think you may have a medical emergency, contact your doctor immediately or call 911.