Urinary incontinence can make you feel like you’ve lost control over your bladder and your life. Rushing to the bathroom, struggling with leaks, and sometimes not making it to the toilet can make it difficult to get through the day, causing frustration and embarrassment.
If these symptoms sound familiar, you’re not alone. At least 33 million American adults have overactive bladder (OAB), a type of urinary incontinence that causes a sudden, desperate urge to empty your bladder.
While this condition is treatable, many men and women don’t talk to their provider. At Urology Associates Medical Group, our urological providers want to help you effectively manage your OAB symptoms so you can reclaim control of your life.
Here’s a closer look at OAB and when it’s time to seek medical treatment.
What do I need to know about overactive bladder?
Overactive bladder triggers a sudden and desperate urge to urinate. Also referred to as urgency incontinence, OAB can create such a strong need to urinate that many people with the condition find they can’t make it to the toilet in time — even when their bladder isn’t full.
OAB develops because of a problem called detrusor overactivity. Your detrusor muscles control your bladder, and when they send signals to contract at the wrong time, you feel a strong need to pee, even if your bladder is relatively empty.
Different things can cause these spasms or misfiring signals. For many people, more than one factor causes overactive bladder, and some people develop OAB for no identifiable reason. There are risk factors and conditions that increase your odds of getting OAB, including:
- History of urinary tract infections
- Bladder abnormalities
- Muscle spasms
- Irregular nerve activity
- Brain damage
- Declining cognitive function
- History of neurological diseases
Hormonal changes during menopause can also cause OAB in older women. And people of all ages taking certain medications are also more likely to develop the condition.
Lifestyle factors and personal habits, like drinking caffeine and alcohol, being mostly sedentary or having mobility issues, or having a health condition that prevents you from fully emptying your bladder, like an enlarged prostate, can make OAB worse.
How can I tell if it’s time to get medical help for OAB?
If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms of OAB, don’t wait to seek professional help. Symptoms can vary and often range in severity. The most common signs of OAB include:
- Needing to urinate eight or more times a day
- Having sudden, strong urges to urinate
- Experiencing difficulty controlling urination
- Getting up two or more times at night to urinate
- Leaking urine after having an urge to urinate
Effectively treating your condition starts with an accurate diagnosis and uncovering any underlying factors contributing to your OAB. Your provider evaluates your medical history, past and current symptoms, and talks to you about any relevant lifestyle factors that could affect your urinary system.
To arrive at a diagnosis, we may order additional testing, like a urinalysis or urine flow rate exam, or lab work. Treatments for OAB vary based on the underlying causes, personal triggers, and the severity of your symptoms.
Your personalized OAB plan may include one or more of the following therapies:
- Lifestyle changes
- Behavioral therapies
- Bladder injections
- Nerve stimulation therapy
Don’t wait to get the help you need for OAB. Schedule an appointment with us at Urological Associates Medical Group in Burbank, California, today.