Bladder-control problems can be frustrating due to the disruption of daily living. According to statistics, more than 33 million Americans are affected by some type of bladder-control problem. Overactive bladder is the instance of frequent contractions of the detrusor muscle that controls the bladder. This muscle contracts even when the bladder is not full, creating an overwhelming urge to urinate. Although bladder-control problems like overactive bladder are very common, many people hesitate to talk about them. We want you to. There is help for overactive bladder, but you have to talk to your urologist to get it.
Symptoms of Overactive Bladder
The most common symptom of overactive bladder is a frequent need to urinate. Not just any need, though, a sudden and uncontrollable need to urinate. This may lead to urge incontinence, the accidental leakage of urine. People with overactive bladder also tend to have to get up at least once at night to urinate (nocturia).
Why does this happen?
Overactive bladder may stem from an infection that irritates the bladder lining or from an enlarged prostate. Another potential factor in overactive bladder is an abnormality in the nerves that control the bladder. The condition may also be caused by a stroke, neurological disease, or side effects from medication. Sometimes, doctors cannot discern an exact cause for the frequent and urgent need to urinate. Some of the questions that are asked to help diagnose overactive bladder include:
- How often do you urinate?
- Do you experience discomfort or pain when urinating?
- Do you ever leak urine before you can reach the bathroom? How severely and how often?
- How long has this sense of urgency been happening?
- Have you recently been ill or had surgery?
- Are you taking medications? If so, what?
A doctor will also perform tests to help make an accurate diagnosis. This may include:
- Urinalysis from a urine sample
- Bladder stress test
- Urodynamic testing
- Cystoscopy, a minimally invasive procedure to observe the inner lining of the bladder for cysts
Treating Overactive Bladder
When possible, overactive bladder is remedied with behavior modification and medication. Behavior modification may include Kegel exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor, biofeedback therapy, and adjusting dietary habits. In some cases, sacral nerve stimulation may be advisable.