A person who has been diagnosed with the medical condition known as overactive bladder, or OAB, has sudden urges to empty their bladder. In fact, most people with OAB visit the bathroom eight or more times a day. This medical condition is very common, affecting approximately 15% of North Americans. When OAB is accompanied by involuntary loss of urine, the condition is sometimes called urge incontinence.
OAB is caused by sudden involuntary contractions of the detrusor muscle, which is in the wall of the bladder. Although OAB is more likely to occur as a person ages, it shouldn't be passed off as a normal part of growing older.
Many medical conditions can increase the risk for OAB. These include dementia, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, spinal injury, and stroke. The risk for OAB can also be increased by excess intake of caffeine, alcohol, or fluid in general. Constipation and certain medications can also increase your risk for OAB. Medications which increase the risk for OAB include diuretics (water pills) and certain medications used to treat psychiatric conditions such as depression.
Although all people with OAB have sudden intense urges to empty their bladder and usually visit the bathroom at least eight times a day, other symptoms of OAB may vary between people. Some people may have accidental loss of small amounts of urine, while others may need to get up many times during the night to urinate. Emotional problems can occur when a person with OAB doesn't seek help and lets their condition affect their work and social life. OAB may affect your self-esteem, professional life, sleep, and sexual relations. If you think you might have OAB, it is very important to see your doctor as studies have shown that treatment may greatly improve your quality of life.