What is Overactive Bladder?
Overactive bladder (OAB) is a common medical condition where the bladder muscle (detrusor) contracts too often or spontaneously and involuntarily. You may feel the need to pass urine more frequently and/or urgently than is necessary and some may also experience incontinence.
Most commonly OAB is found in neurologically normal individuals.
What Causes Overactive Bladder?
It is not always easy to identify a common feature responsible for bladder over-activity, however the following are possible causes:
- Urinary tract infection – a bacterial infection of the bladder/kidneys.
- Outflow obstruction - men with benign prostatic obstruction may complain of symptoms of overactive bladder.
- Neurogenic - those with conditions such as Parkinsons Disease, Multiple Sclerosis or those who have suffered a stroke may also develop overactive bladder.
- Medicines - some medications may be associated with overactive bladder. These include diuretics, phenothiazides, opioids.
- Alcohol/caffeinated beverages - can increase symptoms of OAB.
What Are The Main Symptoms of Overactive Bladder?
You may have some or all of these symptoms:
- Frequency - The need to pass urine more than 8 times during the day.
- Nocturia - The need to get out of bed at night to pass urine more than once.
- Nocturnal Enuresis - Urinating during sleep.
- Urgency - The sudden need to pass urine before reaching a toilet.
- Coital incontinence - Leaking urine during sex.
How common is OAB?
Overactive bladder can affect women, men and children of any age. Sufferers are predominately adult women with adult men coming a close second. In two large studies it was found that approximately one in six adults reported some symptoms of an overactive bladder. Symptoms vary in their severity. About one in three people with an overactive baldder have episodes of urge incontinence. Incidents of overactive bladder can increase with age. Those with overactive bladders do not always seek medical help or advice due to embarrassment or the belief that there is no help available because it is a natural consequence of aging or for women it is a consequence of childbirth.
How Can Overactive Bladder Affect an Individual’s Life?
All aspects of quality of life may be affected when suffering from an overactive bladder. Travelling may be difficult due to concerns over possible urine leakage or locating the nearest toilet.
If a person suffers from uncontrolled bladder leakage, there may be an increased amount of washing, drying and ironing. Using pads or waterproof items may be beneficial.
An individual with overactive bladder may feel distress, embarrassment, inconvenience, loss of self-esteem and self-control. There will also be an effect on the sufferers' personal relationships with others.
It can be beneficial to join Bladder Health UK and gain further information on treatments and lifestyle tips to help gain control of your symptoms.
How can BHUK help you if you join us?
Bladder Health UK can provide overactive bladder patients with a wealth of information, for example:
Members Magazine “Your Bladder Health,” published 3 times per year.
OAB Handbook – an excellent booklet written to provide practical help and advice.
Telephone Advice Line – 0121 702 0820
Telephone contact - with a BHUK Phone-Pal and fellow sufferer.
Area Co-ordinator - providing an opportunity to have personal contact with other sufferers.
Comprehensive Resources - fact sheets, DVDs, lending library, Can’t Wait Cards and much more.
Message Forums - exchange personal experiences of bladder illness with others.