Have you ever been living in the moment, only to have it interrupted by your bladder announcing it's time to head to the restroom? As frustrating as it is, this happens to everyone. What shouldn't be happening is having to go several times a day.

If this sounds familiar, it might be overactive bladder. It's more common than you might think, however, and there are treatments available. 

What is overactive bladder?

When the bladder works correctly, it's great. When it fails to work properly, it can really mess with your life. Things like road trips, flying on a plane, or even waiting in line can become a nightmare. Sneezing can also lead to some rather embarrassing situations. So what exactly is overactive bladder?

According to MedlinePlus, "Overactive bladder is a condition in which the bladder squeezes urine out at the wrong time." 

Some of the symptoms of overactive bladder include:

  • urinating eight or more times a day or more than two times at night
  • feeling the urge to go immediately 
  • leaking urine

The causes of overactive bladder aren't always that clear. It can be due to:

  • a loss of bladder control
  • nerve problems
  • incontinence
  • increased fluid intake
  • drinking too much caffeine 

The Urology Care Foundation reports that other causes could be neurological disorders such as:

  • spinal cord injury
  • multiple sclerosis
  • Parkinson's disease
  • stroke

It can also be caused by: 

  • hormone changes
  • pelvic muscle weakness or spasms
  • side effects from a medication
  • urinary tract infection

Sometimes the cause isn't known, even though the symptoms are impossible to miss.

What does an overactive bladder look like compared to a normal bladder?

Overactive bladder may be more common than you think

When you're suffering with overactive bladder, it may feel like you're alone. It may be more common than we think, however. 

According to the US National Library of Medicine, a study called The National Overactive Bladder Evaluation revealed 16.5% of the participants have overactive bladder.

If that percentage is applied to the American population, that means 33 million American adults may be suffering from overactive bladder. This was only one study, however, so the numbers may be higher than this. This could be because many sufferers fail to report symptoms to their doctors. The FDA reports that 30% of men suffer from overactive bladder. For women, it's about 40%.

So who gets overactive bladder? It seems to be more prevalent in people over the age of 40. This doesn't mean that young adults or children can't get it, however. That means it's all the more important for young adults to bring up the conversation with their doctor if they think something is wrong.

How is overactive bladder diagnosed?

Figuring out if you have an overactive bladder or if it's something else starts with a conversation with your doctor. 

According to the US Library of Medicine, "Urgency is the key symptom in diagnosing OAB, and it is closely associated with frequent daytime desire to urinate, nocturia, and incontinence. Nocturia is reported as the most bothersome symptom. Nocturia was found to be directly related to decreased sleep quality, decreased health-related quality of life, and depression in the elderly population."

The US Library of Medicine went on to explain that there are other causes that must be ruled out first, such as urinary tract infections, metabolic disorders, or urinary stress incontinence. It's possible to have more than one type of infection in your bladder, so you may have both overactive bladder and incontinence.

Is overactive bladder curable?

If you are diagnosed with overactive bladder or fear you might have it, you don't have to worry. There are treatment options available. Whether it's totally curable depends on what the cause is, and what treatments are available.

If the symptoms are caused by a UTI, then curing the UTI will most likely relieve your overactive bladder. There are other causes that don't have a cure, such as diabetes. If this is the case, your doctor may focus on relieving the symptoms.

What is the treatment?

According to the FDA, there are several medications on the market such as oral medications, a patch or gel that is applied to the skin, and even some over-the-counter treatments for women.

Some of the medications prescribed for overactive bladder include: 

  • Oxybutynin
  • Tolterodine
  • Fesoterodine
  • solifenacin

Women may choose to use an over-the-counter patch known as Oxytrol for Women. Men with overactive bladder will have to get a prescription for Oxytrol.

You may also consider a clinically proven solution for treating symptoms of overactive bladder called Axonics Therapy. At the Mississippi Urology Clinic, we specialize in this procedure provides gentle stimulation to the nerves that control the bladder and bowel, which can restore normal control and result in symptom improvement.

There is also another option for overactive bladder which many may find surprising. It's called Botox. While it's more commonly known for being used by plastic surgeons, it can help the bladder to relax. There are some serious side effects associated with the use of Botox for overactive bladder, however, so it's typically not used unless other options have been tried and have failed.

Medication may not even be needed in some cases. There are some lifestyle modifications such as:

  • maintaining a healthy weight
  • following a toilet schedule
  • bladder training
  • pelvic floor muscle exercises
  • absorbent pads

The type of treatment option will depend on what is causing your overactive bladder.

When is it time to speak to your doctor?

If you notice that you're going more often than usual, and it's lasted more than a week, it may time to have a discussion with your urologist. While it's not always comfortable discussing this, that's what your doctor is there for. The sooner you speak up, the quicker your doctor can start seeking out treatment options.

The Urology Care Foundation recommends that you keep a bladder diary to provide your doctor with more information. This is used to keep track of:

  • how much fluid you consume each day 
  • how many times you go to the restroom
  • how often you feel the urgency
  • leaks

It's also important to record the time of day this happens.

Schedule an appointment today

You don't have to live with an overactive bladder. If it's affecting your day-to-day life, and you're ready to do something about it, let us know. The Mississippi Urology Clinic in Jackson, Mississippi is here for you. We'll work with you to diagnose the cause and go over a list of options for treatment. Schedule an appointment today for more information.