OAB: A Nurse's PerspectiveA nurse's perspective on OAB
Dr. Jennifer Skelly, Director of the Nurse Continence Program at St. Joseph's Centre for Ambulatory Health Services in Hamilton, Ontario, has helped many people (both women and men) cope with incontinence issues. She offers her perspective on overactive bladder (OAB) and how a Nurse Continence Advisor (NCA) can help.
What is a Nurse Continence Advisor?
A Nurse Continence Advisor (NCA) is a nurse with specialized training and experience in assessing and managing incontinence issues, including OAB.
What is the role of the NCA in helping people with OAB?
An NCA works collaboratively with your family doctor and/or specialist to help assess and manage your OAB symptoms.
Because OAB is a complex issue, your NCA will do an in-depth assessment to identify all of the issues that may be contributing to your symptoms. They will ask you about:
- how much and what type of fluids you drink (e.g., caffeine intake)
- how often you go to the washroom during the day and night
- whether you also have bowel problems (e.g., constipation)
- your medical conditions and medications
- whether you've had recent surgery
- your experience with childbirth (if applicable)
Your NCA will also do a physical exam and conduct tests to see how much fluid is left in your bladder after you urinate.
After doing this detailed assessment, your NCA will provide education to help you learn more about your condition, the factors that are contributing to it, and what you can do to manage it. OAB is a treatable condition and, for many people, self-management is the key. NCAs focus on conservative methods of managing OAB, such as lifestyle changes and exercises, in combination with other treatments such as medications if needed.
How can getting help for OAB make a difference in my life?
Dr. Skelly has found that the quality of her patients' lives improves tremendously after they get help for OAB.
People feel better because they can talk to someone who understands the issues and gives practical suggestions. They find that getting help is a step towards getting their lives back: they can socialize again, do the activities they enjoy, and continue working the way they want.
But it's important to be patient: most treatments take at least a month or two to work. Dr. Skelly usually sees her patients again 8 to 12 weeks after their first assessment to see how they are doing.
How do I access the services of an NCA?
To find an NCA near you, contact the Canadian Continence Foundation (www.continence-fdn.ca), or speak with your doctor.