What’s the Issue?
If you have to urinate 8 or more times per day, and/or get up to go 2 or more times per night, you may have overactive bladder. An overactive bladder may cause you to feel strong, sudden urges to urinate. You may also have urge incontinence, which causes leakage or gushing of urine following a strong, sudden urge. Or, you may awaken multiple times in the night to urinate, in which case you are experiencing nocturia.
Overactive bladder (OAB) occurs when abnormal nerves send signals to the bladder at the wrong time, causing its muscles to squeeze without warning. There are many different parts in the bladder control system, such as: pelvic floor muscles, sphincter muscles, bladder muscles, nerves and even hormones, and if even one of these is not working properly you may experience bladder control problems, one of which is OAB. Learn more about other incontinence problems.
Why Should I Care?
Women experience urinary incontinence (UI) twice as often as men, and older women experience it more often than younger women, although it can happen at any age to either sex.
Living with OAB is unpleasant. It interferes with every aspect of daily life including travel, exercise, sleep, and even social interactions. OAB can cause low self esteem, low sex drive and higher levels of depression, if it goes unmanaged.
What Can I Do?
Here are some ways to reduce your risk of developing OAB –
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Do Kegel exercises daily
- Don’t smoke; smoking can lead to chronic coughing, which puts unnecessary stress on the bladder
There are different types of incontinence, talk to your doctor about which one you might have. The doctor will need to know your medical history, will likely ask for a urine sample and may ask you to keep a diary to record how much you drink, how often you urinate, leak, etc.
There are multiple treatment options available for OAB. Some require taking medicine or using a device while others involve changing daily habits. Surgery is also a choice at times. If you think you may have or be at risk for OAB, be sure to consult a health care provider to determine whether you have OAB and what treatment options are available to you.