What is Overactive Bladder (OAB)?

Published: July 3, 2018
directional sign for the toilets

Overactive bladder (OAB) is a urological condition marked by the sudden urge to urinate. In some cases, patients also experience increased frequency, leakage and/or nocturia (the need to urinate during sleeping hours).

Approximately 15% of women suffer from OAB, and some experts estimate that the real number is even higher because many OAB cases go unreported and untreated. OAB can be disruptive to daily life and some people avoid social activities for fear of having an episode in public. (1)

If you are suffering from an increased sense of urgency, heightened frequency or leakage, you are not alone. While OAB is common, it isn’t a “normal” part of life. Virginia Urology can help you manage your symptoms and regain control over your daily life. (2)

First, what causes OAB?

The symptoms associated with OAB can be caused by misfiring nerve signals between your brain and bladder that tell the bladder it needs to urinate prematurely. Overactive bladder muscles can also cause OAB symptoms. If the muscles in your bladder contract too often, it creates a sense of urgency even when your bladder is not full. (2)

At-home tips to reduce symptoms.

Even though you may be living with OAB symptoms on a daily basis, you still may not be aware of what triggers them. A great starting point is keeping a bladder diary to get a better understanding of your condition. For several days, keep track of fluid intake, OAB symptoms and trips to the restroom. 

You may find that caffeinated drinks, artificial sweeteners, fruit juice and alcohol can exacerbate your OAB symptoms. You can try experimenting with your diet to see if eliminating certain foods or beverages helps you find relief from your symptoms.

How Virginia Urology can help.

When you make an appointment with Virginia Urology, your doctor will do a thorough exam to ensure that there are not any underlying conditions (like infections or bladder stones) that may be causing your symptoms. From there, your urologist or urogynecologist will discuss your symptoms and potential treatment options.

Your Virginia Urology physician may suggest one (or a combination) of the below: 

  1. Lifestyle changes. This can involve some of the above “at-home” tips, as well as other recommendations that can help reduce your symptoms naturally.
  2. Physical therapy. You can work with one of our specialized physical therapists to learn exercises designed to strengthen your pelvic floor and reduce OAB symptoms.
  3. Medications. Your urologist may prescribe medication that can help your body hold urine for longer and reduce leakage. There are a variety of drugs available and your doctor will work with you to find the solution that works best with your body to relieve your OAB symptoms.
  4. Botox injections. Botox helps the muscles of your bladder relax which can help you go longer between bathroom breaks. Women typically get a Botox injection once or twice a year to keep OAB symptoms at bay.
  5. Nerve stimulation. There are a variety of nerves involved in signaling to your body that it is time to urinate. Your urologist can stimulate the specific nerve(s) causing your symptoms to regulate the “gotta-go” signals being transmitted. (1)

If you feel like you’re always running to the bathroom, consider making an appointment at Virginia Urology. Let’s work together to help you regain the freedom to live your life to the fullest!

  1.  https://www.augs.org/assets/1/6/OAB.pdf
  2. http://www.urologyhealth.org/urologic-conditions/overactive-bladder-(oab)/causes


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