Overactive Bladder

Frustrated you're running to the toilet more often? You may have overactive bladder. Overactive bladder may leave you feeling embarrassed and like you are losing control of your life. This feeling may lead to isolating yourself by limiting work or social activities. However there is good news regarding the broad and diverse treatment options available on the market. Don't suffer in silence, the tabs on the left side of the page will help you prepare to talk to your physician about diagnosis and treatment options.

Overactive bladder (OAB): The International Continence Society (ICS) defines overactive bladder as "urgency, with or without urgency incontinence, usually with frequency and nocturia." Urgency urinary incontinence (UUI): is defined as the unwanted urine loss that happens shortly after the sudden, intense desire to urinate. Urgency Urinary Incontinence is a more severe symptom of OAB but falls beneath its broad definition of the medical condition. If you have UUI and leakage throughout the day without the feeling of urgency, you likely have mixed incontinence. If the urge to urinate cannot be controlled before reaching the toilet, OAB can result in urgency urinary incontinence or "involuntarily emptying the contents of the bladder." Overactive bladder itself is not a disease but rather a series of urinary symptoms.

  • Typical symptoms of overactive bladder include:urinating more than eight times per day or more than once at night (urinary frequency)
  • and a strong and sudden desire to urinate (urinary urgency).

You are not Alone: An estimated 33 million people in the United States suffer from OAB and an estimated 12.2 million of these adults have urgency incontinence. Research indicates that most people believe the symptoms of an overactive bladder (urgency, frequency, and/or urgency incontinence) are an inevitable and normal part of growing older, rather than a treatable medical problem. Therefore, they do not mention their symptoms to a doctor, assuming nothing can be done about the condition. Fewer than half of individuals with incontinence actually consult a healthcare provider about their problem. Click here for more statistics regarding prevalence of overactive bladder.

Causes: Urgency UI is caused by involuntary bladder contractions that occur as your bladder fills with urine continually flowing from the kidneys via tiny tubes, or ureters. With urgency UI, a person may be suddenly aware of the urgency sensation but is unable to get to the toilet before losing control of his or her urine. Urine loss can be in large amounts that soak underwear and even outer clothing. Sometimes an event will "trigger" the urine leakage. Some common triggers include hearing running water or what is known as the "key-in-the-door" syndrome. The anticipation of urinating can trigger a bladder spasm. In some cases, people who have physical limitations, such as arthritis, may not be able to reach the toilet in time, causing an accident. This may not be due to urgency incontinence or even the result of OAB. Click here for more information about potential underlying causes of overactive bladder.

Treatment Options:OAB & urgency urinary incontinence are generally treated with one or a combination of two or more approaches:

Other considerations:Surgery is rarely used to treat urgency incontinence. However, if it is severe and refractory, augmentation cystoplasty, or bladder enlargement, can be considered. Those who are in the process of seeking treatment or who have not had success with treatment may find various products, including absorbents and protective wear, and devices helpful.