Overactive Bladder

The urinary problem known as overactive bladder involves sudden, frequent urges to urinate that are all but uncontrollable. In some cases, this type of bladder problem will progress to urinary incontinence which is the involuntary loss of urine. Some people call overactive bladder "irritable bladder" and one in every six U.S. residents are affected by this condition. Both men and women get overactive bladder, but women get it earlier, in their middle 40's, while men don't seem to develop the condition until they are in their mid-60's.

People with overactive bladder have to think about their condition before making any plans. They need to know they'll be able to get to a bathroom in time to do their thing. That can make life rather complicated. The symptoms of this condition include:


*Urinating 8 times or more within a 24-hour period

*Awakening at least twice a night to urinate

*A sudden urge followed by an immediate loss of urine

*Strong urges that come without warning

Urine Loss

Overactive bladder may not be accompanied by involuntary loss of urine. When there is no urine loss, the condition is termed overactive bladder, dry. Most people, 2/3, have this type of overactive bladder. When there is a loss of urine, this is called overactive bladder, wet.

The urinary system for the filling and emptying of the bladder is a complex one that employs both nerves signals and muscle activity. If just one step in the process goes wrong, the result can be overactive bladder and/or urge incontinence, which is the involuntary loss of urine.

In overactive bladder, the muscles of the bladder experience involuntary contractions before the bladder has finished filling with urine. The effect of these contractions is to cause a sudden intense urge to urinate. The urinary sphincter muscle may remain constricted, in which case, the bladder cannot empty and there is no loss of urine. If the sphincter relaxes in response to the urge, there will be urine loss.

Underlying Causes

Doctors cannot always find the reason for a case of overactive bladder. Certain neurological diseases have been linked with this condition. Because of this linkage, your doctor may see your condition as the sign of a disease process, for instance, Parkinson's or a stroke. He may wish to send you for an evaluation for underlying conditions such as:

*Growths or tumors

*Diabetes, which can lead to an overproduction of urine

*Obstructions in the form of stones, constipation, the aftermath of bladder surgery, or an enlarged prostate

*Drinking too much caffeine or alcohol

*Medication such as diuretics that can cause the sudden increase of urine output

*Urinary tract infections

*Inflammation of urinary tract tissues

Don't Ignore

While many people develop overactive bladder as they age, it's important not to just grin and bear the condition. Instead of stocking up on adult diapers, consult your doctor. Your overactive bladder may be a symptom of something that needs treatment, for instance an infection, or maybe even cancer.

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