There are so many misconceptions about overactive bladder (OAB) that the truth often comes as a surprise to most people. You now know the facts about how aging or childbirth do not cause OAB. But did you know that OAB is also a lot more common than many believe? An estimated 33 million people in the U.S. have OAB. That’s about 1 in 6 adults.
OAB is a medical condition that can affect anyone at any age. OAB is identified with symptoms such as leaks, strong sudden urges to go, and going to the bathroom too often.
The good news is that you don’t need to just put up with OAB symptoms. They can be treated.
OAB may be caused by spasms in the bladder muscle. Unlike a normal bladder, an overactive bladder may spasm even if it contains only a small amount of urine. You may not feel these bladder spasms like you would a back spasm. Instead, you may feel them as strong sudden urges to go. These urges can sometimes lead to leaks.
Many things that you do in everyday life can contribute to making your OAB symptoms worse. For instance, some foods are known bladder irritants and eating them may cause you to go often.
What’s more, OAB symptoms are also affected by how you deal with them. For example, if you often go to the bathroom “just in case,” you may end up training your bladder to hold less urine, which may make you go more frequently.
Sometimes your symptoms can have other causes, too. For instance, some medications, such as diuretics, can make you go to the bathroom more often. So can urinary tract infections. And if you’re overweight, the extra weight might put more pressure on your bladder, which may cause leaks.
In addition, certain health conditions, like arthritis, can impact your bladder symptoms in your everyday life. Standing or walking may get harder due to pain or stiffness related to arthritis, making it more challenging to get to the bathroom in time to deal with a sudden urge.
That’s why it’s important to speak with your doctor about your symptoms. He or she can determine the cause of your symptoms. To help your doctor understand your symptoms, you can also complete the OAB Symptom Quiz and bring it with you to your next appointment.
Each time you eat and drink, your body absorbs liquids. The kidneys filter out waste and extra liquids to make urine. This urine is stored in your bladder.
The bladder is a muscle that can expand like a balloon to hold up to 2 cups of urine. As it fills up, you feel stronger and stronger urges to go. When you are ready, you go to the bathroom.
In an overactive bladder, the bladder muscle may start to spasm to push urine out before the bladder fills up. That’s when you feel a strong sudden urge to go, which may even lead to leaks.
OAB doesn’t always happen as you age, or because of childbirth. It’s a medical condition and there are various treatments for its symptoms.
Everyday changes and prescription medicines are two of the most common. These medicines are thought to work by helping to calm the bladder muscle and reduce spasms.