If you've ever experienced that "gotta go" feeling, or extreme urge to urinate, you may have overactive bladder. This overwhelming urge is one of the main signs that you may be living with overactive bladder (OAB). Other symptoms of OAB include:
- Urine leakage or incontinence – the urge to urinate may cause your bladder to leak a little or a lot
- Increased frequency of urination – you may need to go to the bathroom many times throughout the day
- Going to the bathroom more than eight times per day is usually what your doctor means by frequent
- Waking up at night to urinate
OAB is a group of urinary symptoms such as an uncontrollable urge to urinate or urine leakage caused by this frequent urge.
In OAB, urine leaks when your bladder inappropriately contracts or squeezes even when your bladder is not full. This causes the sudden urge to urinate or that “gotta go” feeling, and it can happen frequently throughout the day and even at night time during sleep.
Pictured above: A normal bladder (left) and what an overactive bladder with urine leakage looks like (right).
WHAT CAUSES OAB?
Overactive bladder typically occurs when nerve signals between your bladder and your brain tell your bladder to empty even when it is not full and the bladder and pelvic floor muscles are not in coordination. OAB can also occur when the muscles in your bladder are too active or contract when they are not meant to, creating that sudden and strong urge to urinate. This is called “urgency.”
COMMON OAB SYMPTOMS
- Increasing age
- Back issues/surgery
- Obesity and being overweight
- Neurological conditions that affect the brain and spine including diabetes, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, cerebral palsy and spinal cord injury
- Bladder tumors, stones and infections
- Certain medications such as diuretics, sedatives and antidepressants
- Certain foods such as caffeine, alcohol and spicy foods worsen symptoms
Overactive bladder is a chronic condition that cannot be “cured.” The symptoms can be successfully managed by our experienced continence specialists. Having ongoing communication is key to managing your symptoms and to finding the best treatment for you.
Your physician will perform a comprehensive medical history and evaluation to accurately diagnose your OAB symptoms in order to prescribe the best treatment option for you. He or she may also order additional tests including:
- Blood work
- Keeping a bladder diary
SPECIALIZED TESTS MAY ALSO BE PERFORMED TO GET A CLEAR IDEA OF THE CAUSE OF YOUR OAB SYMPTOMS, INCLUDING:
- Pelvic ultrasound: This test painlessly checks for abnormalities in the bladder, urinary tract or genitals.
- Post void residual test (PVR): Determines how well you empty your bladder by measuring residual urine after voiding using a thin tube (catheter) passed through your urethra into the bladder. By measuring residual urine, your doctor can determine if there may be a nerve or muscle problem.
- Cystoscopy: A tiny instrument called a cystoscope is inserted into the urethra to find and/or remove abnormalities.
- Urodynamics: A series of diagnostic tests that evaluate the function of your bladder and urethra.
Learn about treatments for OAB here.