Overactive Bladder Frequently Asked Questions

Overactive Bladder (OAB) isn’t a disease. It’s the name of a group of urinary symptoms. The most common symptom of OAB is a sudden urge to urinate that you can’t control. Some people will leak urine when they feel this urge. Having to urinate many times during the day and night is another symptom of OAB.

How common is OAB?

OAB is common. It affects millions of Americans. As many as 30 percent of men and 40 percent of women in the United States live with OAB symptoms.

Who is at risk for Overactive Bladder (OAB)?

As you grow older, you’re at higher risk for OAB. But no matter what your age, there are treatments that can help. Both men and women are at risk for OAB.

Women who have gone through menopause (“change of life”) have a higher than normal risk. Men who have had prostate problems also seem to have an increased risk for OAB. People with diseases that affect the brain or nervous system, such as stroke and multiple sclerosis (MS), are at high risk for OAB.

Food and drinks that can bother your bladder (like caffeine, alcohol and very spicy foods) may make OAB symptoms worse.

What is the major symptom of OAB?

The major symptom of OAB is a sudden, strong urge to urinate that you can’t control. This “gotta go” feeling makes you fear you will leak urine if you don’t get to a bathroom right away. This urge may or may not cause your bladder to leak urine.

What causes OAB?

OAB can happen when nerve signals between your bladder and brain tell your bladder to empty even when it isn’t full. OAB can also happen when the muscles in your bladder are too active. Either way, your bladder muscles “contract” to pass urine before they should. These contractions cause the sudden, strong urge to urinate.

What should I do if I think I have overactive bladder?

Talk with your healthcare professional. Sometimes overactive bladder symptoms can be the result of a urinary tract infection (UTI), an illness, damage to nerves, or a side effect of a medication.

So it’s important to go to a healthcare professional to find out if you have any of these problems. If you do have OAB, there are treatments to help. Together, you and your healthcare professional can choose what’s best for you.

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