Health Topic: Overactive Bladder

Overactive bladder (OAB), also known as overactive bladder syndrome, is a condition where there is a frequent feeling of needing to urinate to a degree that it negatively affects a person’s life.[1] The frequent need to urinate may occur during the day, at night, or both.[2] If there is loss of bladder control then it is known as urge incontinence.[3] More than 40% of people with overactive bladder have incontinence.[4]

The cause of OAB is unclear, and indeed there may be multiple causes.[12] It is often associated with overactivity of the detrusor urinae muscle, a pattern of bladder muscle contraction observed during urodynamics.[13] It is also possible that the increased contractile nature originates from within the urothelium and lamina propria, and abnormal contractions in this tissue could stimulate dysfunction in the detrusor or whole bladder.[14]

Urgency is considered the hallmark symptom of OAB, but there are no clear criteria for what constitutes urgency and studies often use other criteria.[3] Urgency is currently defined by the International Continence Society (ICS), as of 2002, as “Sudden, compelling desire to pass urine that is difficult to defer.” The previous definition was “Strong desire to void accompanied by fear of leakage or pain.”[9]

Urinary frequency is considered abnormal if the person urinates more than eight times in a day..

Nocturia is a symptom where the person complains of interrupted sleep because of an urge to void .

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