Overactive Bladder

An overactive bladder is a condition whereby the bladder fails to store urine, often resulting in the patient’s need to urinate frequently, sometimes involuntarily. Due to its embarrassing nature, most patients tend to isolate themselves and limit their social lives.

Overactive Bladder Symptoms

Patients with an overactive bladder will experience one or more of the following:

  • An overwhelming need to urinate. Oftentimes patients will find it hard to hold it in time to make it to the bathroom.
  • Frequent trips to the restroom. An overactive bladder will cause a patient to urinate, even when it is not full. Patients suffering from this condition have to go to the restroom more than eight times, which is the average number of times a normal person would go.
  • Disrupted sleep as a result of having to go to the bathroom several times a night. Although this symptom is a common occurrence as a person ages, it is also an indicator of an overactive bladder.
  • Severe incontinence. Loss of bladder control is another common symptom of an overactive bladder. Leaking a little bit as a person rushes to the restroom is normal, but if a patient gains no control over his/her bladder and cannot stop it from leaking, then it possibly is an overactive bladder.

Overactive Bladder Causes

Before understanding the possible causes of an overactive bladder, it is important to know how a normal bladder functions. When the bladder is full, the brain is signaled to trigger urination. As a person urinates, the brain coordinates the relaxation and contraction of the pelvic floor muscles and the bladder respectively. The muscles of a patient with an overactive bladder will contract even when the amount of urine is low.

  • Tumors or bladder stones present in the bladder
  • Overconsumption of alcohol and caffeine
  • Neurological disorders that interfere with the brain’s ability to control urination
  • High amounts of urine production as a result of diabetes or poorly functioning kidneys
  • Medication that requires intake of a lot of fluids, or causes a sudden increase in urine production

Overactive Bladder Diagnosis

A patient undergoing diagnosis for an overactive bladder will be asked questions concerning his/her family’s medical history. The patient will also be required to answer a number of questions which will be followed by a pelvic, rectal and genital exam.

  • Urinalysis- this involves the examination of urine samples.
  • Bladder stress test- this test involves filling the bladder with urine and then asking the patient to cough.
  • Postvoid residual volume- this is a test that measures the amount of urine left in the bladder after urination.

Overactive Bladder Treatment

Doctors are likely to recommend a combination of various treatments and exercises to treat this condition.

  • Kegel exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles
  • Scheduled trips to the bathroom
  • Bladder training
  • Absorbent pads that will take care of any accidental leaks and prevent embarrassment
  • Double voiding that aids in emptying the bladder completely
  • Tolterodine
  • Trospium
  • Mirabegron
  • Solifenacin