As IBS sufferers, we talk about going #2 a lot (or not being able to go #2), but what about #1? Do you have IBS and also have an overactive bladder? You are not alone! Having an overactive bladder is actually also called irritable bladder!
Bowel and bladder problems overlap. Research has shown that urinary troubles may be experienced by as many as 50 percent of people who have IBS. Those troubles can include overactive bladder (OAB), incomplete emptying of the bladder, having to get up in the night to urinate (nocturia), and urinary urgency. Research also shows that women that have IBS are more likely to experience urinary incontinence (wetting oneself) than women who do not have IBS.
Researchers don’t exactly know why there is an overlap in this double trouble, but some beliefs are that there is shared inflammation in the body, shared central nervous system dysfunction, and/or how close the organs are for elimination, sharing nerves and muscles. A study in Japan did show that about a third of people diagnosed with overactive bladder syndrome also have IBS. Again, irritability is the common denominator, but the exact reason is not yet understood.1-3
I personally believe that with having IBS-C, my full bowel puts pressure on my bladder, which makes me have to urinate very frequently. Having IBS-C and not IBS-D, I don’t have to deal with sprinting to the bathroom on a plane ride for #2, but I’m that annoying person that says, “Excuse me!” ten times on a flight because I constantly have to pee! I also have very interrupted sleep because I have to get up multiple times in the night to pee (nocturia). Also, just like I never feel as if I completely finish a bowel movement, I always feel like I could pee again, right after I finish going #1.
As if spending a lot of time in the bathroom isn’t enough with irritable bowel syndrome, us IBS sufferers are also more likely to experience irritable bladder, which also makes the bathroom the most frequented room in the house. I definitely noticed that once I started experiencing IBS, I also experienced an overactive bladder. It can be quite embarrassing to have to go all the time, especially during a work setting. I try to stay very hydrated because it’s good for IBS-C, and even though it might make me have to go to the bathroom for #1 ALL the time, I think it’s worth it to be healthy and hydrated.
Have you noticed that once you started to experience IBS that your bladder also became irritable? How do you manage having an irritable bowel, and an irritable bladder?