Overactive Bladder

Overactive bladder (OAB) is a common urologic condition that occurs when bladder muscles begin to act involuntarily, resulting in the frequent and urgent need to urinate. Most adults urinate from four to seven times a day. Patients with OAB may need to urinate up to 30 times a day. Women with OAB often experience urinary incontinence when they are unable to reach the toilet before involuntary urination begins.

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Overactive bladder is a chronic bladder condition

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A brief evaluation can determine whether there's a specific cause for your overactive bladder symptoms.

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Several conditions may contribute to signs and symptoms of overactive bladder

Additional Information

Causes & Risk Factors

With a healthy bladder, signals in your brain let you know that your bladder is getting full or is full, but you can wait to go to the bathroom. With OAB, you can’t wait. You feel a sudden, urgent need to go. This can happen even if your bladder isn’t full. If the nerve signals between your bladder and brain don’t work properly, OAB can result. The signals might tell your bladder to empty, even when it isn’t full.

Risk Factors for OAB

 Neurologic disorders or damage to the signals between your brain and bladder

  • Hormone changes
  • Pelvic muscle weakness or spasms
  • A urinary tract infection
  • Side effects from a medication
  • Diseases that affect the brain or spinal cord, like stroke and multiple sclerosis
  • Caffeine

Symptoms

The major symptom of OAB is a sudden, strong urge to urinate that you can’t ignore. This “gotta go” feeling makes you fear you will leak if you don’t get to a bathroom right away. You may or may not actually leak with this urge to go.

Treatment

If you are diagnosed with OAB a urologist will make recommendations about how to best manage your condition. A number of treatment choices are available including:

Treatment may include:

  • Behavioral and lifestyle changes

  • Medical and surgical treatments

  • Prescription drugs

  • Nerve stimulation therapy (peripheral and central)

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