Overactive Bladder

What is Overactive Bladder?

Overactive bladder (OAB) is a problem with the bladder-storage function. Four symptoms of overactive bladder are:

  1. Urinary urgency: a sudden or overwhelming need to urinate immediately.
  2. Frequency: urinating more than 8 times a day.
  3. Urge incontinence: urine leakage (wetting accident) that follows a sudden urge.
  4. Nocturia: waking up 2 or more times during the night to urinate.

Overactive Bladder Urges

The urge may be difficult to stop, and an overactive bladder may lead to the involuntary loss of urine (incontinence). If you have an overactive bladder, you may feel embarrassed, isolate yourself, or limit your work and social life. You might be surprised to learn that an estimated 46 million American adults age 40 or over-reported symptoms of OAB at least sometimes. It affects both men and women, and it affects people of all ages.

Factors that put you at risk

  • advancing aging
  • a decline in estrogen levels
  • pregnancy
  • childbirth
  • multiple medications
  • diseases of the nervous system
  • prior pelvic surgery
  • prior pelvic radiation
  • benign prostatic hyperplasia
  • urinary tract infections
  • bladder cancer
  • obesity
  • even certain occupations

Overactive bladder is not a normal condition at any age. The good news is that a brief evaluation can determine whether there's a specific cause for your overactive bladder symptoms.

Management of overactive bladder often begins with behavioral strategies, such as fluid schedules, timed voiding, and bladder-holding techniques using your pelvic floor muscles. If these initial efforts don't help enough with your overactive bladder symptoms, second-line and third-line treatments are available.

More Information

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