Overactive Bladder

Overactive bladder is a condition causing sudden urges to urinate that are difficult to control. Sometimes this problem with bladder function leads to incontinence, the involuntary loss of urine. The condition is sometimes called irritable bladder and affects one out of every six American men and women. While both sexes are affected, women begin to be affected by the disorder in their mid-40s, while men are not affected until their mid-60s.

Wrecks Your Social Life

Overactive bladder makes it hard for those affected to maintain a social life as they must always consider the limitations of their bladders. Symptoms of overactive bladder include:

Sudden, strong urge to urinate

Urge followed by immediate loss of urine

Frequent urination-at least 8 times in 24 hours

Getting up two or more times during the night to urinate

Overactive bladder can occur without a subsequent loss of urine. This is referred to as overactive bladder, dry. About 2/3 of people with the disorder have this type of condition. When there is loss of urine, the condition is called overactive bladder, wet.

The system of filling and emptying the bladder is quite complex and involves nerve signals as well as muscle activity. If things go awry at any stage of the game, overactive bladder and urge incontinence (loss of urine) may result.

Overactive bladder is the involuntary contraction of the muscles of the bladder as it is still filling and perhaps half full. These muscle contractions create the sensation of the urgent need to urinate. If the urinary sphincter remains constricted, the bladder is prevented from emptying. Otherwise, there is urge incontinence.

Doctors aren't always able to identify the cause of an overactive bladder. Some neurological diseases are associated with overactive bladder and in this case, overactive bladder is more a symptom of another disease, such as Parkinson's or stroke. Your doctor will want to evaluate you for other conditions since you may need treatment for an underlying condition. Such conditions would include:

Abnormalities in the bladder, for instance tumors

Diabetes, which may cause too much urine to be produced

Obstructions-stones, enlarged prostate, constipation, bladder surgeries

Over-consumption of alcohol or caffeine

Medications that cause sudden increase in urine output

Urinary tract infection

Inflamed tissues in the area of the urinary tract

A Signal

While there is a tendency to develop overactive bladder with age, this should not be considered a normal part of the aging process. Don't cover up the problem by wearing absorbent pads and undergarments, see your doctor. Overactive bladder and urge incontinence may signal an urgent underlying condition that needs treatment, such as infection or even cancer.

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