Frequent urination disrupts life, making work and socializing needlessly stressful. It becomes perplexing when the urge to urinate does not correlate to the output. An overactive bladder is a condition that includes a wide group of symptoms.
It is very common and characterized by the frequent and uncontrollable need to urinate. Researchers estimate up to 30% of men and 40% of women experience overactivity. It is important to remember an overactive bladder concerns the need and urge to urinate, not necessarily production. Incontinence or leaking may or may not occur in patients with an overactive bladder.
Changes in urination may indicate infection or another medical condition. You should discuss them with your doctor immediately. While an overactive bladder is not typically associated with pain or a danger to your health, it causes many patients stress, anxiety, and insecurity.
Despite the many causes of overactive bladder, the symptoms are consistent for most patients.
A normally functioning bladder fills with urine and the brain receives a signal about the coming need to void. Once you're able to reach the bathroom, the brain signals the bladder muscles to tighten, forcing urine out of the bladder, down the urethra, and out of the body.
If the bladder is overactive, you feel a sudden and urgent need to urinate. The bladder may not even be full. This happens because the messages between the bladder and brain aren't transmitting correctly or bladder muscles are hyperactive. While an overactive bladder is common, it is not a normal or inevitable part of aging.
Possible contributing factors to overactive bladder include:
Medical consultation is necessary when you experience symptoms from an overactive bladder. The condition can be caused by anything from drinking too much coffee to a bladder tumor reducing capacity. Your doctor will perform a physical examination and may ask you to begin keeping a bladder diary. They'll want you to track your liquid consumption, the nature of your urge to urinate, the number of bathroom trips, and output.
The doctor may also order tests and diagnostic studies including:
Sometimes an overactive bladder can be managed with lifestyle changes and preventative measures. These include:
Treatment depends on the cause of your overactive bladder. If the symptoms are caused by diabetes or neurologic disease, treating the underlying condition may resolve urinary issues. Other causes may be managed with:
Frequent urination caused by an overactive bladder causes embarrassment, social withdrawal, trouble at work, and feelings of hopelessness. Consulting your doctor to determine the cause of overactivity is important for maintaining your overall health. Lifestyle modifications, controlling underlying conditions, and medical intervention are often enough to control urinary symptoms and return to normal bladder function.