Overactive Bladder

What is Overactive Bladder (OAB)?

Overactive bladder (OAB) is a common condition that affects millions of Americans. Overactive bladder isn’t a disease. It’s the name of a group of urinary symptoms. The most common symptom of OAB is a sudden urge to urinate that you can’t control. Some people will leak urine when they feel the urge. Leaking urine is called “incontinence.” Having to go to the bathroom many times during the day and night is another symptom of OAB.

There is another common bladder problem called stress urinary incontinence (SUI), which is different from OAB. People with SUI leak urine while sneezing, laughing or doing other physical activities. More information on SUI can be found at www.urologyhealth.org/SUI/.

Key Statistics

About 33 million Americans have overactive bladder. As many as 30% of men and 40% of women in the United States live with OAB symptoms. But the real number of people with OAB is most likely much larger. That’s because many people living with OAB don’t ask for help. Some are embarrassed. They don’t know how to talk to their health care provider about their symptoms. Other people don’t ask for help because they think there aren’t any treatments for OAB.

How OAB Can Affect Your Life

OAB can get in the way of your work, social life, exercise and sleep. Without treatment, OAB symptoms may make it hard to get through your day without lots of trips to the bathroom. You may feel nervous about going out with friends or doing everyday activities because you’re afraid you may not find a bathroom when you need one. Some people begin to shy away from social events. This can make them feel lonely and isolated.

OAB may affect your relationships with your spouse and your family. It can also rob you of a good night’s sleep. Too little sleep will leave you tired and depressed. In addition, if you leak urine, you may develop skin problems or infections.

You don’t have to let OAB symptoms change your life. There are treatments available to help. If you think you have OAB, see your health care provider.

The Truth About OAB

Don’t let myths about OAB prevent you from getting the help you need.

OAB is not “just part of being a woman.”
OAB is not “just having an ‘enlarged’ prostate (BPH).”
OAB is not “just a normal part of getting older.”
OAB is not caused by something you did.
Surgery is not the only treatment for OAB.
There are treatments for OAB that can help with symptoms.
There are treatments that many people with OAB find helpful.
There are treatments that can help, even if your symptoms aren’t severe or if you don’t have urine leaks.

What is Neurogenic Bladder?

Millions of Americans have neurogenic bladder. Neurogenic bladder is the name given to a number of urinary conditions in people who lack bladder control due to a brain, spinal cord or nerve problem. This nerve damage can be the result of diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS), Parkinson’s disease or diabetes. It can also be caused by infection of the brain or spinal cord, heavy metal poisoning, stroke, spinal cord injury, or major pelvic surgery. People who are born with problems of the spinal cord, such as spina bifida, may also have this type of bladder problem.

Nerves in the body control how the bladder stores or empties urine, and problems with these nerves cause overactive bladder (OAB), incontinence, and underactive bladder (UAB) or obstructive bladder, in which the flow of urine is blocked.

What is Hematuria?

During routine visits to your health care provider, you are often asked to give a urine sample for testing. Many tests are done routinely, like checking for sugar (diabetes), bacteria (infection) and blood. Blood in the urine that you do not see is called “microscopic hematuria.” This blood is only visible under a microscope. There are many causes and most are not serious, but may call for care by your health care provider.