What is an Overactive Bladder?

An overactive bladder can be a socially embarrassing condition where the person faces difficulties in bladder storage, which causes sudden urges to urinate. The urge is so strong and difficult to stop that it leads to incontinence (involuntary loss of urine).

When kidneys produce urine, they drain it into the bladder. As the bladder fills up with urine, nerves signal an urge for urination and coordinate the muscle movements that allow relaxation of the bladder and passage of urine. When a person faces bladder control problems, urine leaks out due to the following reasons:

  • Weak pelvic muscles
  • Nerve damage
  • Alcohol, caffeine, medicines
  • Infection
  • Excess weight
  • Estrogen deficiency post menopause

Certain conditions increase the risk of losing bladder control, like age, diabetes, enlarged prostrate, stroke or Alzheimer’s disease.

What are the symptoms of Overactive Bladder?

Overactive bladder symptoms include:

  • Urgency for urination
  • Increased frequency of urination
  • Urge incontinence, or leakage of urine as soon as urge occurs
  • Nocturia or the need to wake up at night more than twice to urinate

Which specialist should be consulted in case of signs and symptoms?

Diagnosis and treatment of this disorder requires a person to consult an experienced urologist or gynecologist (for women).

How to diagnose an overactive bladder?

First step in diagnosis involves ruling out blood in urine and infection. The doctor will then collect the following:

  • Medical history
  • Physical exam
  • Neurological tests – This helps identify any reflex or sensory problems.
  • Urodynamic test – This test checks how well the bladder functions and involves measuring urine flow rate & testing bladder pressure

What are the treatment options?

A combination of treatment therapies maybe used to treat the symptoms:

  1. Behavioral therapy – These include
    1. Pelvic floor exercises
    2. Maintaining healthy body weight
    3. Double voiding of bladder
    4. Fluid consumption at specific intervals
    5. Absorbent pads
    6.  Bladder training
  2. Medication – Medicines can help relax the bladder and reduce bladder overactivity and incontinence.
  3. Bladder injections – A bacterial protein called Botox is injected in small doses into the bladder tissue to paralyse its muscles.
  4. Nerve stimulation – This method involves controlling the nerve impulses that reach the bladder.
  5. Surgery – Patients with severe symptoms may require surgery to reduce bladder pressure and improve its storage capacity. Two forms of surgery are possible:
    • Increasing bladder capacity by using bowel tissue to replace a portion of bladder.
    • Removing the bladder and adding a replacement or opening in the body that attaches to a bag on the skin for urine collection.

How can the disorder be prevented from happening or recurring?

Including healthy lifestyle choices can reduce the risk and symptoms of bladder over-activity:

  • Ensuring regular physical activity on a daily basis; practising Kegel exercises
  • Limiting alcohol and caffeine
  • Quitting smoking
  • Managing conditions like diabetes that can aggravate symptoms

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This write-up was contributed by Credihealth content team:

Credihealth is India’s No.1 Medical Assistance company. Credihealth gives guidance to a patient from the first consultation through the entire hospitalization process. A team of in-house doctors helps the patient find the right doctor, book appointment, request cost estimate for procedures and manage admission & discharge processes.

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