“Gotta go, gotta go, gotta go right now!” Remember that commercial? Maybe you’re even one of the 33 million Americans that identify with it due to your overactive bladder. The Urology Care Foundation estimates that “approximately 30 percent of men and 40 percent of women in the United States live with OAB symptoms,” but these numbers may be even greater because many people are too embarrassed to discuss the condition with their family physician.
Although your risk for OAB does increase with age, it’s not a normal part of growing older. There are many effective treatments available to people of all ages.
What are the symptoms of an overactive bladder?
The Mayo Clinic and other experts agree that going to the bathroom more than eight times in 24 hours constitutes frequent urination, one of the main symptoms of overactive bladder. In addition, you may experience:
- • Urgency, a strong need to urinate that you can’t ignore.
- • Incontinence, the leaking of urine after experiencing the sudden urge to go.
- • Nocturia, waking two or more times in the night to go to the bathroom.
What are the causes of OAB?
Sometimes the specific cause of an overactive bladder isn’t known, but the result is nerve signals from your brain tell your bladder to empty even when it’s not full. Your overactive bladder muscles contract involuntarily to void urine, giving you that sudden, overpowering urge to urinate.
Post-menopausal women and men who have had prostate problems are at greater risk for OAB. Other conditions that contribute to the symptoms include:
- • Urinary tract infections
- • Tumors or stones in the bladder
- • Enlarged prostate or constipation obstructing bladder outflow
- • Neurological disorders that affect the brain or spinal cord, such as Parkinson’s disease, strokes, and multiple sclerosis.
- • Declining cognitive function due to aging, Alzheimer’s disease, or other forms of dementia
- • High urine production related to poor kidney function or diabetes
- • Incomplete bladder emptying
- • Medications that cause a rapid increase in urine production
- • Excessive caffeine or alcohol consumption
Do I need to seek medical help for my OAB?
Many people with overactive bladder find that it takes a serious toll on their social and professional lives. You may start to isolate yourself and avoid activities outside the home if you don’t trust that you can find a bathroom when you need one. You might feel embarrassed if you’re one of the people who experience a large amount of involuntary urine leakage after your sudden urge to go.
It’s time to consult a urologist if incontinence and overactive bladder symptoms are negatively affecting your quality of life. There is no need to suffer depression, emotional distress or interrupted sleep. There are many different treatment options that can help you control your OAB symptoms.
A brief evaluation with a urologist can determine whether there’s a specific cause for your overactive bladder symptoms such as a urinary tract infection, underlying illness or nerve damage. Some urologists specialize in incontinence and OAB. After a complete medical history and thorough examination, your doctor may use special tests to assess how well your bladder is emptying, your urine flow rate and your bladder pressure.
Treatment options that your urologist will discuss with you include:
- • Behavioral interventions
- • Medications to relax the bladder
- • Botox injections to partially paralyze bladder muscles
- • Nerve stimulation to regulate the impulses to your bladder
- • Surgery, usually reserved for people with severe symptoms who don’t respond to other treatments
If you find that you spend most of your days and nights feeling like you “gotta go right now!”—there is no need to allow an overactive bladder to diminish your quality of life. Revere Health Urology specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of a wide range of pediatric and adult urinary problems in eight easy-to-access Utah locations.
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