If you frequently experience a sudden urge to urinate that you can’t control, you may have overactive bladder (OAB). A common condition, about 33 million Americans—40 percent of women and 30 percent of men—live with OAB symptoms.
Unfortunately, many individuals who have OAB don’t ask for help. Some are embarrassed or don’t know how to talk to their healthcare provider about it. Others don’t ask for help because they think it can’t be treated.
Overactive bladder isn’t a disease. It’s the name of a group of urinary symptoms. In addition to having sudden uncontrollable urges to urinate, other symptoms include leaking urine when you feel the urge, also known as incontinence, and having to go to the bathroom many times during the day and night.
OAB symptoms such as urgency and urinary frequency can interfere with your work, social life, exercise and sleep. Without treatment, OAB symptoms may make it hard to get through your day without lots of trips to the bathroom. You may also feel nervous about going out with family and friends or doing everyday activities because you’re afraid you might have an accident. Some people begin to shy away from social events. In addition, it can rob you of a good night’s sleep, leaving you tired and depressed. Plus, if you leak urine, you may develop skin problems or infections.
Often there is no identifiable cause for OAB. While people are more likely to develop the problem as they age, it is not a normal or expected part of the aging process. Women who have gone through menopause and men who have had prostate problems seem to be at greater risk for OAB. Individuals with diseases that affect the brain or spinal cord, such as stroke and multiple sclerosis, are at high risk for OAB as well.
But sometimes OAB symptoms can be the result of a urinary tract infection, an illness, damage to nerves, or a side effect of a medication. So it’s important to go to a healthcare provider to find out if you have any of these problems.
If you do have OAB, there are treatments that can help. They include:
- Lifestyle changes
No single treatment is right for everyone. Your provider may recommend one treatment alone, or several at the same time. You and your healthcare provider should talk about what you want from treatment and about each treatment choice.
Don’t let dealing with OAB symptoms take over your life. If you have questions or concerns about OAB, the experienced specialists at Anne Arundel Urology have the answers you need. Our expertise can make a big difference in getting the right diagnosis and the right treatment, right away.