Overactive Bladder

Overactive Bladder

The medical condition known as Overactive Bladder (or OAB for short) has recently been recognized by the medical/diagnostic community as a genuine medical condition and not just a function of age. For most of us, the bladder is a “passive” organ that performs its function unobtrusively and without any fuss. It can be very distressing when the bladder begins to perform more actively, and one’s quality of life can be profoundly affected.

The primary feature of an overactive bladder is a sudden sense of urgency, often accompanied by urge incontinence as the bladder undergoes involuntary contraction. It’s often impossible to stop leakage when these contractions occur and the amount of urine released can be large enough to soak outer clothing. Another symptom of an overactive bladder is increased frequency of urination, up to 8 times a day or more. When the increased frequency begins to affect sleep patterns by causing a person to get out of bed to urinate, it is known as Nocturia. Elderly people often report that Nocturia is disrupting their sleep, but many cases go unreported due to the reluctance of people to admit to suffering from this problem. It’s estimated that only one-third of women who suffer from urinary incontinence seek medical attention and two-thirds of patients who do seek medical attention have suffered from their symptoms for more than two years.

Nearly 20 million North Americans suffer from some form of overactive bladder syndrome and it is more common in women and the elderly. Any change from regular urination patterns should be reported to a physician so that the precise cause can be determined. OAB itself can be a symptom of a life-threatening illness such as a stroke or tumor. Other causes, including bladder irritation and urinary tract infections can be treated and cured, thus resolving the patient’s overactive bladder problem. Treatment regimens usually involve a combination of drug therapy and behavior modification.

Along with popular acceptance of OAB as a legitimate medical issue have come a variety of over the counter remedies such as branded adult diapers and bladder control pads. It’s to be hoped that greater public acceptance and recognition of OAB will encourage more people to seek medical advice for their conditions. In many cases, patients can resume normal or near-normal activity by making just a few modest changes to their daily routine. Having an overactive bladder no longer means you can’t have an active lifestyle too!

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