Do you find yourself running to the bathroom all the time or having this strong urge to run to the bathroom but you can’t make it and sometimes having accidents or are you waking up all night to go to the bathroom? well you might have overactive bladder. So what are the symptoms of overactive bladder, well there are four major symptoms, one is frequency or having to go to the bathroom more often than usual and the definition that we use is more than eight times a day is considered abnormal, of course if you’re drinking a lot more water you’re gonna go to the bathroom a lot more but if it’s affecting your quality of life then that’s something that is concerning, another thing is urgency which is essentially the sudden desire or urge to run to the bathroom that you cannot hold off or you can’t delay at all, sometimes this can be associated with bladder leakage or having an accident, this is called urgency urinary incontinence and lastly waking up at night to urinate more than one time is considered abnormal and this is called nocturia, so those are all the symptoms that taken together make up overactive bladder and the most important thing about these symptoms is how they affect your quality of life. Overactive bladder essentially is a problem that affects quality of life but it’s not that simple, it can affect more than just how bothered you are, it can affect how productive you are at work, if you’re always running to the bathroom you certainly can’t get work done, it can affect your social relationships and cause isolation because you don’t feel like you can go to the bathroom, sometimes people have to even map out where the bathrooms are wherever they go because they’re afraid of having an accident or they can’t go to the movies or go on long trips because they really have to go to the bathroom so frequently that it makes it impossible and financially this can be very problematic, you can end up spending lots and lots of money on absorbent pads and diapers and underwear and bedding and all that can really add up so taken together this can be a really big problem and when they’ve looked at studies about how many people have overactive bladder they found that about 16% of the population has these symptoms, that’s not a small number of people, also it can affect your relationships in the bedroom so if you’re having accidents during sex it’s going to potentially inhibit your desire to have sex.
So what causes overactive bladder, well age is a common cause, many times people will develop symptoms of overactive bladder related to age, that doesn’t mean it’s normal to have these symptoms, it just means that that is a cause of these symptoms, also being overweight can contribute to urinary incontinence or leakage, in fact when they look at women who are obese they have a threefold times more likelihood of having urinary incontinence episodes compared to women who are not obese, also having a history of vaginal deliveries or multiple pregnancies can contribute as well, other medical problems can also cause overactive bladder, the most common ones are things like diabetes, depression, having a history of a surgery, either a hysterectomy or radiation to the area and other neurologic conditions like having multiple sclerosis parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injuries or stroke, all can contribute to symptoms of overactive bladder, also if you’ve had surgery like a mid urethral sling or a public vaginal sling for stress urinary incontinence, those are surgeries for leakage that occur with coughing, sneezing, lifting exercise, those surgeries can also cause what we call obstruction or blockage of the p-tube which can lead to worsening overactive bladder symptoms.