What is overactive bladder?

Ja-Hong Kim, MD
Overactive bladder is a clinical diagnosis that is characterized by the presence of bothersome urinary symptoms. There are four symptoms to consider. The first is urgency, the second is frequency, the third is nocturia and the fourth is urge incontinence. Urgency is defined as the sudden compelling desire to void that is difficult to put off. Frequency is defined as urination greater than eight times in 24 hours. Nocturia is described as interruption of sleep to urinate more than twice. Urge incontinence is an involuntary loss of urine that is precipitated by urge. If you have any one of these symptoms, you may have overactive bladder syndrome.

Overactive bladder, also called urge incontinence, is a condition that causes an urge to urinate that is sudden and difficult to control leading to leakage of urine. This condition is caused by bladder muscles that are too active, making you urinate more frequently, even when your bladder is not completely full. You may have difficulty getting to the rest room on time. Overactive bladder can make you feel like you always have to be connected to a bathroom, which places limitations on your everyday life.

An overactive bladder (OAB) is a bladder that contracts more often than it should, so you feel the need to urinate more frequently and/or urgently than usual. Some people with OAB also experience incontinence (known as "OAB wet"), but many do not (known as "OAB dry").
If you feel a strong urge to urinate even when your bladder isn't full, your incontinence might be related to overactive bladder, sometimes called urge incontinence. This condition occurs in both men and women and involves an overwhelming urge to urinate immediately, frequently followed by loss of urine before you can reach a bathroom. Even if you never have an accident, urgency and urinary frequency can interfere with work and a social life because of the need to keep running to the bathroom.
Renee E. Cotter, MD
OBGYN (Obstetrics & Gynecology)
Overactive bladder (OAB) is a common condition where the bladder muscle is overactive and a little bit of fluid in the bladder can make the muscle contract, giving a woman a strong urge to get to the bathroom. Sometimes the urge to go is so strong they have an accident before reaching the bathroom. There are also strong links to stimuli like proximity to the bathroom, the sound of running water or shower, etc., that give a stronger urge to go in people with OAB.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.