Botox injections have been known to smooth the features of the stars for many years. But new studies have shown that this wonder drug may have a new use, especially for older women: treating overactive bladders.
The American Urological Association released a study in May at its annual meeting that found that Botox injected directly into the bladder decreased daily incontinence instances by 50% or more.
Of those treated with Botox, between 44% and 52% of patients saw their incontinence cease completely.
The treatment isn’t exactly new, having been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in January 2013. However, it has managed to help women like 57-year-old Connie Ziegler, of Derry, PA.
At the age of 52, Ziegler developed transverse myeletis, a disorder which can cause the spinal cord to become inflamed, often after a viral infection. The disease can cause paralysis and lead to dysfunction with the bowels and urinary tract.
As a result, Ziegler experienced incontinence, which is caused by urinary muscle spasms. Like many women with this problem, she was embarrassed and isolated herself by staying home.
But since she received Botox injections to treat the problem, she has that her incontinence has disappeared. Ziegler credits the drug with letting her lead a normal life, walking her dog and seeing friends once again.
What is Botox exactly? This injectable, along with similar products like Dysport and Xeomin, comes from the botulinum toxin A, a neurotoxin that can paralyze the muscles it comes into contact with.
In 2013, Botox and its alternatives remained the most commonly performed non-invasive cosmetic procedure, seeing a 15.6% increase following the year prior. Since then, it has only increased in use, and like in Ziegler’s case, it is injected for more than simply cosmetic purposes.
Like the treatment for incontinence, Botox and the botulinum toxin has also seen effectiveness in treating migraine headaches.
The National Headache Foundation reports that more than 37 million Americans suffer from migraines, which can’t just be treated with an over-the-counter painkiller. These headaches are often debilitating for sufferers, causing nausea and vomiting, vision impairments, and extreme sensitivity to lights and noises.
Those who suffer from chronic migraines experience headaches at least 15 days per month, with at least eight of those days involving a migraine. They not only find it hard to stay at work, but they also can miss leisure activities and time spent with their families and friends.
However, Botox has been proven to be an effective treatment for migraine sufferers, as well. Patients can see up to 31 injections administered in just one treatment to their head, neck, and shoulders, and these help to block the neurotransmitters that can signal pain to the body.
According to clinical trials done with Botox injections, these treatments reduced the number of headaches per month by as many as seven to nine incidences, and they may make the remaining headaches more manageable.
As for treating incontinence, like Ziegler’s, as the result of transverse myelitis, Botox injections can also help those who have had spinal cord injuries and strokes or who suffer from Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis.