Overactive Bladder - An Overview

Overactive bladder is a condition characterized by an urgent need to urinate, frequent urination and inability to control the urge and hold off the urge to urinate. Urine leakage can occur even when the urge is not present. OAB is a common condition that affects both men and women, and can lead to frequent disruptions to daily activities. It is often accompanied by anxiety and depression.

Symptoms of Overactive Bladder

The hallmark sign of overactive bladder is the urgent need to urinate. This can be accompanied by other symptoms such as:

  • Frequent urination (more than eight times a day)
  • Nocturia; waking up two or more times during the night to urinate
  • Increased urgency of urination
  • Urge incontinence; leaking urine because of a strong urge to urinate even when the bladder is not full
  • Feeling of incomplete bladder emptying

Causes of Overactive Bladder

The cause of overactive bladder is not known, but there are a number of potential contributing factors such as:

  • Age
  • Family history of bladder problems
  • Certain medications
  • Bladder problems due to neurological disorders, like stroke, multiple sclerosis, or Parkinson's
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Excess consumption of caffeine or alcohol

Treatment of Overactive Bladder

There are several treatment options available for overactive bladder, depending on the cause and severity of the condition. Treatment may include:

  • Lifestyle changes such as avoiding caffeine, limiting fluid intake, and doing Kegel exercises
  • Medications such as antimuscarinics, beta-3 agonists, or anti-depressants
  • Bladder retraining, which involves gradually increasing the amount of time between voidings
  • Botox injections for severe cases, to block nerve signals that cause an overactive bladder
  • Surgery to implant a device to stimulate the nerve that controls bladder function