Overactive Bladder is, as the name suggests, a strong, sudden urge to urinate both during the day and night. You do not necessarily have to have a full bladder to experience these urges. You can have just a small amount of urine in your bladder, and these urges are likely to occur.
For most individuals, the most troublesome part of overactive bladder, besides the frequent trips to the restroom, is the bladder leakage. Often a person may not be able to hold the urine, and this can precipitate leakage, called incontinence. Overactive bladder is more common in older adults. Men and women can both experience overactive bladder, although studies show that women experience the condition more often.
Overactive Bladder Causes
An overactive bladder is generally caused by a muscle in the bladder that involuntarily contracts. This involuntary contraction of those muscles creates the sense of urgency and feeling to urinate. There are some individuals with whom the urge is completely sensory, meaning that you may feel the need to urinate but the muscles are not contracting.
There are several causal factors that may contribute to an overactive bladder, and they include neurological disorders (such as Parkinson's disease or multiple sclerosis), urinary tract infections, tumors or kidney stones, poor kidney function or diabetes, high fluid intake, and bladder outflow obstructions.
Overactive Bladder Symptoms
The primary symptoms of overactive bladder are, of course, the urgent need to urinate frequently. They also include waking up more than twice during the night to urinate, having to urinate just after a trip to the bathroom, urinating only a small amount out each time, or leaking problems.
In order to determine if you have an overactive bladder, your doctor will need to perform a physical examination. He or she may perform a pelvic exam (if you are a female), a rectal exam (if you are a male), a urine test, a blood test. He or she will ask a series of questions in order to rule out other possible causes.
Examples of the types of questions you may be asked are the types of fluids you drink and the amount, how often you urinate, the amount, and if there is any leakage. It is important if you think you suffer from overactive bladder to see a doctor right away.
Overactive bladder symptoms can be indicative of another problem such as diabetes, a cancerous tumor, or even prostate disease. Additionally, if you believe that overactive bladder is merely a symptom of old age and something you have to deal with, it is not. There are overactive bladder treatment options available.
Overactive Bladder Treatment
In order to lessen or eliminate the symptoms of overactive bladder, your doctor may employ a combination of different treatments, both medicinal and behavioral. Behavioral treatment options will help in overactive bladder management. These recommendations may include:
- Bladder training, which is essentially going to the bathroom at scheduled times such as every 15 minutes or so and working up to longer intervals
- Lessening your fluid consumption or only drinking fluids at certain times of the day
- Strengthening exercises like Kegels, pelvic floor muscle exercises which, over time, may strengthen your bladder muscles from involuntarily contracting
Acupuncture is an alternative medicine that has been shown to help women with overactive bladder. Your doctor may also prescribe you medicine along with behavioral treatment options if your overactive bladder is really an annoyance that disrupts your quality of life. These medications may relax the bladder and are generally very effective for incontinence and frequent urges. Some of these drugs have side effects such as dry mouth and dry eyes.