Symptoms of Painful Bladder Syndrome
Symptoms and their severity vary greatly and, coupled with the presence of other diseases, compounds the difficulty of diagnosis.
That said, the following experiences are indicators that you may have PBS:
- Chronic, persistent pelvic pain that can include the bladder and genitals
- Frequent and urgent need to urinate, night and day – for some, up to 60 times
- Urinary incontinence, with the sudden, strong need to urinate not allowing sufficient time to get to the toilet
- Pain as the bladder fills and when passing urine
- Passing only small volumes of urine
- Pain during sexual intercourse
Impacts of Painful Bladder Syndrome
The effects of PBS on a person’s quality of life cannot be underestimated. It can negatively impact your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing in the following ways:
- Lack of sleep. The benefits of quality sleep on our physical and emotional wellbeing are irrefutable. PBS can force people out of bed multiple times throughout the night to go to the toilet, leaving them exhausted and reducing their emotional resilience.
- Lifestyle. The frequent urination, pain and fatigue can force people from paid employment. It can also lead to social isolation as the condition becomes all-consuming, with catch-ups and other interactions being avoided. Even daily tasks like supermarket shopping, laundry and cleaning can seem insurmountable.
- Wellbeing. In addition to the lack of sleep, constant pain takes a heavy toll, leaving sufferers irritable and in a low mood. It’s not uncommon for people with PBS to all have mental health issues like anxiety and depression.
- Intimacy. On top of sleep deprivation and low mood, a symptom of PBS can be pain during sexual intercourse leading to a withdrawal of affection and distancing from a partner.
This terrible disease has no cure, but some treatments can alleviate symptoms. Don’t put up with it and persist with a diagnosis. If your doctor is dismissive, find another.
Treatments for Painful Bladder Syndrome symptoms
It’s usual to begin with conservative treatments and, depending on the result, move through to interventions like medication and surgery.
- Lifestyle changes
- Avoiding food and drink known to irritate the bladder, including caffeine, chocolate, alcohol, carbonated drinks, citrus and tomato
- Altering the concentration of urine by drinking more or less water
- Bladder Retraining. If you’re emptying your bladder every 30 minutes, try stretching it out to 45 minutes. A Bladder Diary can be useful when undertaking this approach
- Stress relief. One school of thought is that PBS is triggered by stress, so try relaxation therapies, mindfulness and gentle exercise
- Counselling. Some people find counselling developed to help cope with chronic pain useful. You can read more about it here on the Australian Pain Management Association website. In New Zealand, there are handy resources on their Navigation Pain page of the New Zealand Pain Society website
- Physiotherapy. Exercises and manipulation to relax the pelvic muscles and reduce pain.
- Oral medication.
These can include:
- Pain killers,
- Drugs to repair the bladder’s mucosa (the lining) which like the stomach, if damaged, can cause ulcers and inflammation
- Medication that reduces the production of stomach acid, which can move through your system and aggravate the bladder
- Bladder instillation.
This is when medication is placed directly into the bladder via a catheter
- Procedures may be undertaken to repair any damage or increase the capacity of the bladder
If you have had a diagnosis of PBS, discuss a treatment plan, including any medication with your doctor. Never self-medicate as without professional supervision, there can be unintended, harmful consequences. Your doctor may refer you to other health care specialists like physiotherapists and pain management experts.
Managing incontinence associated with PBS
TENA has a range of products to manage incontinence. All have been designed to rapidly absorb the thin, fast flow of urine, locking it within the product to keep you dry and odour free.
For daytime, TENA Pads might be suitable. These fit into your regular underwear and range from Ultra Thin Minis for a small leak through to highly absorbent Super Pads. TENA Pants are also a great option. These are soft, stretchy and breathable, looking and feeling just like your usual underwear, but with high capacity absorbency that can handle many small voids. If you’re rushing to the toilet, the pull-down/pull-up of pants could suit your needs.
For night time, check out TENA Pads Maxi Night. It has more coverage at the back and anti-leak guards that provide security regardless of your sleeping position and is safe for sensitive skin. For an undisturbed sleep, have a look at the TENA Specialist Products including the most absorbent products as well as Bed Pads for additional leakage protection.
Deciding on the right product can be challenging. If you’re still uncertain, try TENA’s Product Finder Tool where you can also order free samples.
A final word on PBS - persist
Painful Bladder Disease is a debilitating condition that is difficult to diagnose. Some doctors can be dismissive; others can misattribute the symptoms to other disorders. If you are continuing to suffer, persist with finding a sympathetic doctor who can help develop a plan, including referrals, to help alleviate and manage the pain of this terrible disease.
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.