Reality Check: Do You Have an Overactive Bladder?

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  • I use the bathroom more than 8 times during the day or 2 times at night
  • When I go somewhere, the first thing I do is find the bathroom in case I have a sudden need to go
  • I often have a sudden need to go with little or no warning
  • When I have to go, I can’t ignore it
  • I have wet myself because I can’t get to the bathroom in time
  • I limit activities because of my bladder problems

If any of these describe you, talk to a Healthcare Provider about your Overactive Bladder symptoms.

What are the symptoms of Overactive Bladder?

The term Overactive Bladder (OAB) is used to describe a collection of symptoms.  A patient may have one or more of these symptoms.  OAB symptoms include:

  1. A sudden, intense urge to urinate (urinary urgency), sometimes followed by the loss of urine (urge incontinence)
  2. Urinating more than 8 times daily or twice at night (urinary frequency)

What causes of Overactive Bladder?

OAB is generally caused by bladder muscles that are overly sensitive or overactive.  This overactivity is caused by damage to nervous system or to the nerves and muscles associated with bladder. While the cause of the nerve damage is often unidentified, it can result from Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinsons's Disease, Alzheimer's Disease, stroke or injury. The Overactive Bladder symptoms of urinary urgency, urinary frequency or urge incontinence may also be present in people with interstitial cystitis or post-radical prostatectomy.

How common is Overactive Bladder?

About 16% of the adult population have one or more of these symptoms. That’s about 42 million people in the United States.1

How is Overactive Bladder treated?

First, you will need to be evaluated for Overactive Bladder. Your doctor may take your medical history, test your bladder function and ask you to record your bathroom habits and accidents in a voiding diary.

If you receive an OAB diagnosis, your doctor will work with you on a personal treatment plan. There are three “lines” of therapy for Overactive Bladder which are usually offered in the following order:

1. Behavior Treatments

  • Changing what you do, such as watching fluid intake
  • Pelvic floor exercises

2. OAB Drugs

  • Multiple available
  • Usually try 2-3 (each for 4-6 weeks)

3. Other Treatments

  • Urgent PC is a recommended therapy for patients who do not respond to behavior treatments or OAB drugs
  • Urgent PC may be used earlier if drugs aren’t an appropriate choice
  • Other, more invasive third line therapies are also available

1. Stewart, W.F., Rooyen, J.B.V., Cundiff, G.W., Abrams, P., Herzog, A.R., Corey, R., et al. (2003). Prevalence and burden of overactive bladder in the United States.World J Urol, 20, 327-336.