Is overactive bladder the same as urinary incontinence?

Evelyn Minaya, MD
OBGYN (Obstetrics & Gynecology)
Watch as obstetrician and gynecologist Dr. Evelyn Minaya discusses the differences between overactvie bladder and urinary incontinence.
Kevin W. Windom, MD
OBGYN (Obstetrics & Gynecology)

Overactive bladder is a type of urinary incontinence.  The most common types of urinary incontinence are stress urinary incontinence which is caused by a hypermobility of the urethra.  The second most common cause of urinary incontinence is overactive bladder or bladder spasms. When the bladder becomes full it starts to spasm and patients are unable to control urine from leaking.  The last type of urinary incontinence is overflow incontinence.  This is caused when a patient is unable to adequately empty their bladder and this excessive amount of residual urine that is in the bladder continues to leak without any provocation. 

Overactive bladder is a form of a specific type of urinary incontinence. Urge incontinence is a type of urinary incontinence where a person suddenly feels the need to expel urine and has just a minute to do so before an accident. Most often, urge incontinence is caused by something else, such as a urinary tract infection or a bladder irritant. However, when no particular cause is known, urge incontinence is then referred to as overactive bladder.