Overactive bladder syndrome
What is Overactive bladder syndrome?
Overactive bladder (also known as OAB, or Overactive Bladder Syndrome) is a urological condition related to problems with urination. It is an often debilitating and stigmatised syndrome that is not life-threatening and does not always require treatment.
The hallmark symptom of overactive bladder is urgency, but the diagnosis also includes frequent urination, frequent interruptions of sleep because of the need to urinate (nocturia), and urinating unintentionally followed by an urge to continue (urge incontinence). Overactive bladder has many causes which can include diseases such as diabetes, medications such as diuretics, or lifestyle choices such as excessive consumption of caffeine or alcohol. Bothersome urinary symptoms that are related to neurological conditions such as multiple sclerosis are generally treated differently from overactive bladder in people who do not have neurological problems.
People with the condition often have the symptoms for a long time before seeking medical care, and the condition is sometimes identified by caregivers rather than the person with the symptoms. The condition is similar to polyuria and polydipsia and is distinguished from other conditions because the amount of urine passed when there is an urgent need to urinate is relatively small with overactive bladder. Pain while urinating suggests that there is a problem other than overactive bladder.
Management of overactive bladder is addressed in terms of quality of life since it is not a life-threatening problem, and treatment is not always necessary if the treatment would cause more discomfort than the symptoms. The person often keeps a diary tracking urination to help determine whether treatments are working. If the person's quality of life is impaired and behavioral therapies do not work, medications such as anti-muscarinic drugs are used to control the symptoms. Invasive treatment such as surgery to modify spinal nerves is possible but is avoided because of the potential for permanent damage and the nonthreatening nature of the disorder. Overactive bladder is not rare, estimates in population studies vary widely and suggest that from 7-27% of men and 9-43% of women experience these symptoms. Other studies suggest that the condition is more common in men. Many people who have problems have them for less than a year.