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Overactive Bladder (OAB)

Overactive bladder (OAB) is a chronic condition characterized by urinary incontinence and the extreme urgency to urinate. OAB is a common problem for many women, and sometimes in men, who live with its life-altering symptoms. Overactive bladder treatment has many approaches, from medication and behavioral changes to more advanced therapies. Identifying the best treatment for managing your OAB symptoms is an ongoing process. We understand that there is no one-size-fits-all therapy, which is why re-evaluation of your progress and exploration of various treatment options is all part of your personalized OAB management program.

OAB Symptoms

OAB is a group of symptoms rather than a specific disease. While its main symptom is urgency to urinate, there are other symptoms, as well. The symptoms can be successfully managed by our experienced and dedicated continence specialists. Having ongoing communication is key to managing your symptoms and to finding the best treatment for you.

Other symptoms of OAB include:

  • Urine leakage – The urge to urinate may cause your bladder to leak urine at inconvenient times.
  • Increased frequency of urination – The need to go to the bathroom many times throughout the day.
  • Nocturia – Waking up multiple times at night to urinate.

Risks & Causes for Developing OAB

Knowing the risks for OAB may help you avoid getting the condition, such as maintaining your pelvic floor muscles, limiting your fluid intake appropriately, eliminating foods that irritate your bladder, quitting smoking, managing your health conditions, and making specific lifestyle changes.

Overactive bladder typically occurs when nerve signals between your bladder and your brain tell your bladder to empty even when it is not full and the bladder and pelvic floor muscles are not in coordination. OAB can also occur when the muscles in your bladder are too active or contract when they are not meant to, creating that sudden and strong urge to urinate. This is called “urgency.”

OAB is not always preventable. Individuals who are at highest risk of OAB are:

  • Older
  • Suffering from back pain
  • Overweight or obese
  • Diagnosed with neurological conditions
  • Diagnosed with bladder tumors, stones, and infections
  • Taking specific medications, including diuretics, sedatives, or antidepressants
  • Consuming too much caffeine, alcohol, and spicy foods

Diagnosing OAB

Some people may feel embarrassed about talking to a physician regarding bladder control problems, but rest assured, our continence specialists will put you at ease. Speaking to a urologist who understands what you’re going through is the first step to finding the best solution for your OAB, and our OAB specialists are highly experienced.

During an evaluation, your physician will take a medical history and listen to your symptoms. That way, they can prescribe the best treatment option for you. Additional tests may also be necessary, such as urinalysis, blood work, or submitting a bladder diary. This bladder diary is when the patient keeps a daily record of how often they make trips to the bathroom, what they drink, their urine output, and when any leakage occurs to gain a better understanding of your symptoms

The specific cause of your OAB may be determined through the following diagnostic tests:

  • Pelvic ultrasound: This test painlessly checks for abnormalities in the bladder, urinary tract, or genitals.
  • Post void residual test (PVR): Determines how well you empty your bladder by measuring residual urine after voiding using a thin tube (catheter) passed through your urethra into the bladder. By measuring residual urine, your doctor can determine if there may be a nerve or muscle problem.
  • Cystoscopy: A tiny instrument called a cystoscope is inserted into the urethra to find and/or remove abnormalities. This procedure can be performed in your doctor’s office or in an ambulatory surgery center.
  • Urodynamics: A series of diagnostic tests that evaluate the function of your bladder and urethra. These tests may be recommended if you have urinary incontinence (leakage of urine), neurogenic bladder, recurrent bladder infections, slow or weak urinary stream, incomplete bladder emptying or frequent urination.

Treatment Options for OAB