Overactive Bladder (OAB): Symptoms,Cancer, Diagnosis & Treatment

July 6, 2020
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The urinary bladder is a muscular sac within the pelvis, simply above and behind the pubic bone. When empty, the bladder is in regards to the measurement and form of a pear.Urine is made within the kidneys and travels down two tubes referred to as ureters to the bladder. The bladder shops urine, permitting urination to be rare and managed. The traditional capability of the bladder is 400-600 mL.Throughout urination, the bladder muscle mass squeeze, and two sphincters (valves) open to permit urine to circulation out. Urine exits the bladder into the urethra, which carries urine out of the physique. As a result of it passes by the penis, the urethra is longer in males (8 inches) than in ladies (1.5 inches).


Overactive bladder, additionally referred to as OAB, causes a frequent and sudden urge to urinate which may be troublesome to manage. It’s possible you’ll really feel like you want to move urine many occasions through the day and night time, and might also expertise unintentional lack of urine (urgency incontinence).

When you have an overactive bladder, you might really feel embarrassed, isolate your self, or restrict your work and social life. The excellent news is {that a} temporary analysis can decide whether or not there is a particular trigger on your overactive bladder signs.

You might be able to handle signs of an overactive bladder with easy behavioral methods, resembling dietary adjustments, timed voiding and bladder-holding methods utilizing your pelvic flooring muscle mass. If these preliminary efforts do not assist sufficient along with your overactive bladder signs, extra therapies can be found.

Bladder Conditions:

  • Cystitis: Irritation or an infection of the bladder inflicting acute or continual ache, discomfort, or urinary frequency or hesitancy.
  • Urinary stones: Stones (calculi) could kind within the kidney and journey all the way down to the bladder. If kidney stones block urine circulation to or from the bladder, they’ll trigger extreme ache.
  • Bladder cancer: A tumour within the bladder is normally found after blood is discovered within the urine. Cigarette smoking and office chemical exposures trigger most circumstances of bladder most cancers.
  • Urinary incontinence: Uncontrolled urination, which can be continual. Urinary incontinence may result from many causes.
  • Overactive bladder: The bladder muscle (detrusor) squeezes uncontrollably, inflicting some urine to leak out. Detrusor overactivity is a typical reason for urinary incontinence.
  • Hematuria: Blood within the urine. Hematuria could also be innocent, or could also be attributable to an infection or a critical situation like bladder most cancers.
  • Urinary retention: Urine doesn’t exit the bladder usually as a consequence of a blockage or suppressed bladder muscle exercise. The bladder could swell to carry greater than a quart of urine.
  • Cystocele: Weakened pelvic muscle mass (normally from childbirth) enable the bladder to press on the vagina. Issues with urination may result.
  • Bed-wetting (nocturnal enuresis): Mattress-wetting is outlined as a toddler age 5 or older who wets the mattress not less than one or two occasions every week over not less than three months.
  • Dysuria (painful urination): Ache or discomfort throughout urination as a consequence of an infection, irritation, or irritation of the bladder, urethra,  or exterior genitals.


When you have an overactive bladder, you might:

  • Really feel a sudden urge to urinate that is troublesome to manage
  • Expertise unintentional lack of urine instantly after a pressing must urinate (urgency incontinence)
  • Urinate steadily, normally eight or extra occasions in 24 hours
  • Get up greater than two occasions within the night time to urinate (nocturia)

Even when you’ll be able to get to the bathroom in time if you sense an urge to urinate, sudden frequent urination and nighttime urination can disrupt your life.

When to see a doctor:

Though it is not unusual amongst older adults, overactive bladder is not a standard a part of growing old. It may not be straightforward to debate your signs, but when they’re distressing you or disrupting your life, speak to your physician. Therapies can be found which may enable you.


Regular bladder operates:

The kidneys produce urine, which drains into your bladder. Once you urinate, urine passes out of your bladder by a tube referred to as the urethra (u-REE-thrush). A muscle within the urethra referred to as the sphincter opens to launch urine out of the physique.

In ladies, the urethral opening is positioned simply above the vaginal opening. In males, the urethral opening is on the tip of the penis.

As your bladder fills, nerve indicators despatched to your mind ultimately set off the necessity to urinate. Once you urinate, these nerve indicators coordinate the relief of the pelvic flooring muscle mass and the muscle mass of the urethra (urinary sphincter muscle mass). The muscle mass of the bladder tightens (contract), pushing the urine out.

Involuntary bladder contractions

Overactive bladder happens as a result of the muscle mass of the bladder begin to contract involuntarily even when the amount of urine in your bladder is low. These involuntary contractions create a pressing must urinate.

A number of circumstances could contribute to indicators and signs of overactive bladder, together with:

  • Neurological issues, resembling stroke and a number of scleroses
  • Diabetes
  • Urinary tract infections that may trigger signs just like these of an overactive bladder
  • Hormonal adjustments throughout menopause in ladies
  • Abnormalities within the bladder, resembling tumours or bladder stones
  • Elements that impede bladder outflow — enlarged prostate, constipation or earlier operations to deal with different types of incontinence

Different components which may be related along with your signs embrace:

  • Drugs that trigger a speedy enhance in urine manufacturing or require that you just take them with a lot of fluids
  • Extra consumption of caffeine or alcohol
  • Declining cognitive operate as a consequence of growing old, which can make it harder on your bladder to know the indicators it receives out of your mind
  • Problem strolling, which may result in bladder urgency should you’re unable to get to the lavatory rapidly
  • Incomplete bladder emptying, which can result in signs of overactive bladder, as you have got little urine cupboard space left

The particular reason for an overactive bladder could also be unknown.

Risk factors:

As you age, you are at elevated threat of treating overactive bladder. You are additionally at greater threat of illnesses and issues, resembling enlarged prostate and diabetes, which may contribute to different issues with bladder operate.

Many individuals with cognitive decline — as an illustration, those that have had a stroke or have Alzheimer’s illness — develop an overactive bladder. Incontinence that outcomes from conditions like this may be managed with fluid schedules, timed and prompted voiding, absorbent clothes, and bowel applications.

Some individuals with an overactive bladder even have bowel management issues; inform your physician if it is a downside for you.


Any sort of incontinence can have an effect on your total high quality of life. In case your overactive bladder signs trigger disruption to your life, you may also have:

  • Emotional misery or melancholy
  • Nervousness
  • Sleep disturbances and interrupted sleep cycles
  • Points with sexuality

In some circumstances, the remedy of those related circumstances could assist along with your urinary signs.

Ladies who have an overactive bladder might also have a dysfunction referred to as combined incontinence when each urgency and stress incontinence happens. Stress incontinence is the unintentional lack of urine prompted by bodily motion or exercise that places stress in your bladder, resembling coughing, sneezing, laughing or exercising. Therapy of stress incontinence isn’t possible to assist overactive bladder signs. Equally, the remedy of overactive bladder isn’t possible to enhance stress incontinence signs.

Some individuals could have a typical mixture of bladder storage issues and bladder-emptying points. The bladder could trigger lots of urgencies and even incontinence, however, it does not empty effectively. A specialist might be able to enable you with this mixture of bladder issues.


These wholesome ways of life decisions could scale back your threat of overactive bladder:

  • Preserve a wholesome weight.
  • Get common, day by day bodily exercise and train.
  • Restrict the consumption of caffeine and alcohol.
  • Give up smoking.
  • Handle continual circumstances, resembling diabetes, which may contribute to overactive bladder signs.
  • Study the place your pelvic flooring muscle mass are after which strengthen them by doing Kegel workouts — tighten (contract) the muscle mass, maintain the contraction for 2 seconds and calm down the muscle mass for 3 seconds. Work as much as holding the contraction for 5 seconds after which 10 seconds at a time. Do three units of 10 repetitions every day.


When you have an irregular urge to urinate, your physician will test to just be sure you do not have an infection or blood in your urine. Your physician might also wish to just be sure you’re emptying your bladder fully if you urinate.

Your physician will search for clues which may additionally point out contributing components. Your appointment will possibly embrace a:

  • Medical historical past
  • Bodily examination, which can embrace a rectal examination and a pelvic examination in ladies
  • Urine pattern to check for an infection, traces of blood or different abnormalities
  • A targeted neurological examination that will determine sensory issues or irregular reflexes

Tests of bladder function:

Your physician could order checks to evaluate how effectively your bladder is functioning and its capability to empty steadily and fully (urodynamic checks). These checks normally require a referral to a specialist and might not be essential to make an analysis or start remedy. Urodynamic checks embrace:

  • Measuring urine left within the bladder. This takes a look at is essential if there’s concern about your capability to empty your bladder fully if you urinate. Remaining urine within the bladder (post-void residual urine) could trigger signs similar to these of an overactive bladder.To measure residual urine after you have got voided, your physician could request an ultrasound scan of your bladder. The ultrasound scan interprets sound waves into a picture, displaying how a lot of urine is left in your bladder after you urinate. In some circumstances, a skinny tube (catheter) is handed by the urethra and into your bladder to empty the remaining urine, which may then be measured.
  • Measuring urine circulation fee. To measure the amount and pace of your voiding, you might be requested to urinate into a tool (uroflowmeter). A uroflowmeter catches and measures the urine, and interprets the information right into a graph of adjustments in your circulation fee.
  • Testing bladder pressures. Cystometry is a take a look at that measures stress in your bladder and within the surrounding area as your bladder fills. Throughout this take a look at, your physician makes use of a skinny tube (catheter) to fill your bladder slowly with heat fluid. One other catheter with a pressure-measuring sensor is positioned within the rectum or, for ladies, in the vagina. The sensor tells how a lot stress your bladder has to exert to empty fully.This process can determine whether or not you have got involuntary muscle contractions or a stiff bladder that is not in a position to retailer urine beneath low stress.

Your physician will overview the outcomes of any checks with you and counsel a remedy technique.


A combination of treatment strategies may be the best approach to relieve overactive bladder symptoms.

Behavioural therapies:

Behavioural interventions are the first choice in helping manage an overactive bladder. They’re often useful, and they carry no side effects. Behavioural interventions may include:

  • Pelvic floor muscle exercises. Kegel exercises strengthen your pelvic floor muscles and urinary sphincter. These strengthened muscles can help you stop the bladder’s involuntary contractions.Your doctor or a physical therapist can help you learn how to do Kegel exercises correctly. Just like any other exercise routine, how well Kegel exercises work for you depends on whether you perform them regularly.
  • Biofeedback. During biofeedback, you’re connected to electrical sensors that help you measure and receive information about your body. The biofeedback sensors teach you how to make subtle changes in your body, such as strengthening your pelvic muscles so that when you have feelings of urgency, you’re better able to suppress them.
  • Healthy weight. If you’re overweight, losing weight may ease symptoms. Weight loss may help if you also have stress urinary incontinence.
  • Scheduled toilet trips. Setting a schedule for toileting — for example, every two to four hours — gets you on track to urinate at the same times every day rather than waiting until you feel the urge to urinate.
  • Intermittent catheterization. If you are not able to empty your bladder well, using a catheter periodically to empty your bladder helps your bladder do what it can’t do by itself. Ask your doctor if this approach is right for you.
  • Absorbent pads. Wearing absorbent pads or undergarments can protect your clothing and help you avoid embarrassing incidents, which means that you won’t have to limit your activities. Absorbent garments come in a variety of sizes and absorbency levels.
  • Bladder training. Bladder training involves training yourself to delay voiding when you feel an urge to urinate. You begin with small delays, such as 30 minutes, and gradually work your way up to urinating every three to four hours. Bladder training is possible only if you’re able to tighten (contract) your pelvic floor muscles successfully.


After menopause, vaginal estrogen therapy can help strengthen the muscles and tissues in the urethra and vaginal area. Vaginal estrogen comes in the form of cream, suppository, tablet, or ring, and can significantly improve symptoms of overactive bladder.

Medications that relax the bladder can help relieve symptoms of overactive bladder and reduce episodes of urge incontinence. These drugs include:

  • Tolterodine (Detrol)
  • Oxybutynin, which can be taken as a pill (Ditropan XL) or used as a skin patch (Oxytrol) or gel (Gelnique)
  • Trospium
  • Solifenacin (Vesicare)
  • Darifenacin (Enablex)
  • Fesoterodine (Toviaz)
  • Mirabegron (Myrbetriq)

Common side effects of most of these drugs include dry eyes and dry mouth, but drinking water to quench thirst can aggravate symptoms of overactive bladder. Constipation — another potential side effect — can aggravate your bladder symptoms. Extended-release forms of these medications, including the skin patch or gel, may cause fewer side effects.

Your doctor may recommend that you sip small amounts of water or suck on a piece of sugar-free candy or chew sugar-free gum to relieve dry mouth, and use eyedrops to keep your eyes moist. Over-the-counter preparations, such as Biotene products, can be helpful for long-term dry mouth. To avoid constipation, your doctor might recommend a fibre-rich diet or use of stool softeners.


Surgery to treat overactive bladder is reserved for people with severe symptoms who don’t respond to other treatments. The goal is to improve the bladder’s ability to store urine and reduce pressure in the bladder. However, these procedures won’t help relieve bladder pain. These procedures include:

  • Surgery to increase bladder capacity:

    This procedure uses pieces of your bowel to replace a portion of your bladder. This surgery is used only in cases of severe urge incontinence that doesn’t respond to any other, more-conservative treatment measures. If you have this surgery, you may need to use a catheter intermittently for the rest of your life to empty your bladder.

  • Bladder removal:

    This procedure is used as a last resort. It involves removing the bladder and surgically constructing a replacement bladder (neobladder) or an opening in the body (stoma) to attach a bag on the skin to collect urine.

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