Urge Incontinence or Overactive Bladder (OAB) is a sudden, uncontrollable urge to go to the bathroom. This urge can occur even if the last trip to the bathroom was within the last ten minutes. Overactive Bladder is the result of uncontrolled contractions of the bladder muscle or detrusor caused by interference between the bladder and the brain. These involuntary bladder contractions which occur during the time the bladder is filling with urine are one of the distinguishing characteristics of Overactive Bladder. Involuntary bladder contractions may be spontaneous or provoked; however, they are near impossible to suppress.
Overactive bladder (OAB) has been referred to as the closet disorder since more than one quarter of regularly incontinent people take their problem to a health care professional. Instead of seeking help, many people with Urge Incontinence try to compensate for the effects of the disorder by adjusting their habits and lifestyle. By doing so, these people are able to achieve some success in their efforts to manage symptoms caused by an Overactive Bladder. Consider some of the following management techniques used to gain some semblance of control of Overactive Bladder:
- restricting the intake of fluids
- urinating to a timed schedule
- urinating at the first sensation of urgency
- finding accessible public toilets (toilet mapping)
- increasing the frequency of bladder draining (defensive voiding)
Overactive Bladder adversely affects anyone’s way of life. Many men and women suffering from Urge Incontinence report that they have a poor quality of sleep, more depression, and an overall lower quality of daily life than persons who do not experience Overactive Bladder. Overactive Bladder can have more adverse affects on ones quality of life than other well known diseases such as diabetes, etc. Elderly people have a greater propensity for the Overactive Bladder condition. In fact, frequent Urge Incontinence with associated Urgency and Nocturia has been shown to increase the risk of falling in elderly people. Overactive Bladder including Urge Incontinence is a major contributor to the decision to admit an older person to a nursing home.
Consider the following Overactive Bladder conditions/symptoms, as you try to understand your own bladder condition:
- urinary urgency
- urge incontinence (wetting accidents)
In addition, consider the various types of Incontinence associated with Overactive Bladder:
- Stress Urinary Incontinence may be due to poor bladder support by the pelvic muscles or to a weak or damaged sphincter. This condition allows urine to leak when you do anything that strains or stresses the abdomen, such as coughing, sneezing, laughing, or even walking.
- Mixed Incontinence is often a combination of both stress and urge incontinence.
- Overflow Incontinence occurs when the bladder is allowed to become so full that it simply overflows.
- Environmental Incontinence (also known as Functional Incontinence) occurs even when the urinary system works well; however, physical or mental disabilities or other circumstances prevent normal toilet usage.
- Nocturnal Enuresis is incontinence that occurs during sleep.