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What is Overactive bladder?

An overactive bladder is a condition where the bladder contracts whilst it is filling. These contractions are usually spontaneous and cannot be suppressed.
Those with overactive bladders do not always seek medical help or advice due to embarrassment or the belief that there is no help available and it is a natural consequence of ageing.

What causes overactive bladder?

Overactive bladder is not easy to diagnose, as it is not easy to identify a common feature responsible for causing over-activity. The following may be causes of overactive bladder:

Urinary tract infection - a simple and treatable cause.
Outflow obstruction - men with benign prostatic obstruction may complain of symptoms of overactive bladder.
Neurogenic - those with conditions such as Parkinsons Disease, Multiple Sclerosis or who have suffered a stroke also may develop overactive bladder.
Stress incontinence - associated with weak pelvic floor muscles, as is overactive bladder.
Drugs - some medications may be associated with overactive bladder. These include diuretics, phenothiazides, opioids and alcohol.

What are the main symptoms of overactive bladder?

Some or all of these symptoms may be present.

FREQUENCY: The need to urinate many times throughout the day and night.
URGENCY: The sensation of having to urinate immediately.
URGE INCONTINENCE: The sudden leakage of urine from the bladder:

Who is affected?

Overactive bladder is a common problem that can affect men, women and children of any age or race, although sufferers are predominately women and incidents of overactive bladder increase with age.

How can overactive bladder affect an individual's life?

All aspects of the quality of life may be affecting when suffering from an overactive bladder. Travelling may be difficult due to concerns over possible urine leakage. A sufferer may be concerned that others may find out that they have a problem.

Work may be impossible due to not being able to access toilet facilities. At home there will be the increased amount of washing and drying soiled articles. Emotionally an individual with overactive bladder may feel distress, embarrassment, inconvenience, loss of self-esteem and self-control. There will also be an effect on the sufferers' personal relationships with others.

If you would like to receive an information pack on OAB and the latest treatments available ,send your name and address to

© The Cystitis and Overactive Bladder Foundation 2008
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