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What are the Signs of an Overactive Bladder?

What are the Signs of an Overactive Bladder?

An overactive bladder, also called OAB, is a health condition where the walls of the muscles in the gall bladder contract involuntarily. This results in an uncontrollable release of urine called “urge incontinence” which happens more often than usual in 24 hours. What are the signs of an overactive bladder?

OAB has two types: the “dry” and the “wet.” Dry OAB is the urgent need to urinate during the day at frequent times, while wet is the sudden release of urine even before arriving at the toilet that is also called the urge incontinence.

This condition commonly happens when aging. According to research, 15% of adults have OAB although women are more frequent to experience this condition than men. It negatively affects the daily lifestyle of people with OAB because of frequent worrying about finding a restroom from time to time. However, an overactive bladder can be treated with the help of some medications and lifestyle changes.

signs of an overactive bladder

What are the Signs of an Overactive Bladder?

An overactive bladder is not just characterized by occasional incontinence as it can also be triggered by other incidents, such as laughing too hard or holding in urine for a long time.

This can be determined by an urgent need associated with the fear of being unable to find a toilet room right away. However, incontinence is not the sole indicator for an overactive bladder.

Here are the four specific symptoms of having an overactive bladder:

  • Urge Incontinence. It is the sudden leakage of urine even before receiving the signal of the urge to urinate.
  • Frequency of Urination. This symptom is the increase in the frequency of feeling the need to urinate compared to the usual number of times within the day.
  • Urinary Urgency. It is the sudden urge to urinate or the failure of holding the urine for an extended time.. At this point, the need to release urine cannot be postponed.
  • Nocturia. This is determined by the need of getting up at night at least two times to urinate.

What are the Causes and Risk Factors of Overactive Bladder?


There is no specific cause of overactive bladder according to the medical doctors. However, several causes may contribute to the malfunction of the gallbladder.

Abnormalities in the nervous system may also cause this condition. In fact, the nervous system controls the gallbladder and other organs in our body. Damage on one of the nerves can cause an abnormality of the nervous system. The following are the nervous system abnormalities that cause an overactive bladder.

Other than nervous system abnormalities, other causes include:

  • Trauma to the pelvis or abdomen. This not very common abnormality that may be caused by surgeries or car accidents. Damage on pelvic bones can lead to a pierce on the wall of the gallbladder which will affect the bladder’s function and can result in the frequent urge of urination or leakage.
  • Urinary Tract Infection. It is an infection of the urinary system that affects the kidneys, urethra, and bladder that result in frequent urination.
  • Bladder stones. These are the hard masses or chunks in the bladder that blocks the flow of urine through the urethra and one of its symptoms is frequent urination associated with pain.
  • Enlarged prostate. This is the expansion of the prostate that men usually get by aging. When the prostate grows larger, it blocks the flow of urine through the urethra and it usually results in the weakening of muscles in the bladder.

The Signs and Symptoms of Bladder Stones

Risk Factors

  • Age. As you grow older, the capacity of the bladder reduces. The signals that control the bladder also get weaker that inclines an individual to the symptoms of overactive bladder.
  • Gender. Women and men are both at stake to have an overactive bladder. For women, menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause contribute to the risk of this condition as these weaken the muscles in the pelvic floor due to an increase in estrogen level. As for men, it is the enlargement of the prostate that causes an overactive bladder.
  • Obesity. Excess weight puts extra pressure on the bladder that usually results in frequent urination.
  • Excess consumption of caffeine. Overconsumption of caffeine affects the nerve that signals the brain. In addition, too much caffeine fills the bladder in a short time that can cause leakage of urine.
  • Spinal Injury. This factor is possible to cut the communication between the nerves of the spinal cord that controls the functions of the bladder. When signals on the bladder are cut, incontinence may take place.

When to See a Doctor

An overactive bladder is a common condition for adults. However, this is not a normal condition. This is why it’s important to see a doctor as soon as you experience this or when urges to urinate suddenly distresses you and becomes a burden. Not treating this right away will negatively affect your daily lifestyle.

Some complications will also manifest due to an overactive bladder such as depression, dehydration, fatigue from nocturia, and urinary tract infections. Therefore, consulting a doctor and getting treatments that are very helpful in managing these symptoms.

How to Prevent Overactive Bladder

The symptoms of overactive bladder are uncomfortable and can be a burden for your daily work. To prevent having this condition, always maintain a healthy lifestyle by eating the right amount of food, exercise, limit the intake of caffeine and alcohol, and avoiding smoking.

Key Takeaways

For both men and women, an overactive bladder is not a normal condition. It can be caused by several possible health problems that, if not treated, can make your life miserable.

Treating this condition requires a doctor’s consultation and treatment. Early treatment may also help you in managing the symptoms and lessening the worry about your daily lifestyle.

Learn more about urinary incontinence, here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


Overactive Bladder: Patient Guide

https://www.urologyhealth.org/overactive-bladder?fbclid=IwAR26z3Q17QTZE5pBdy06nYtIkCypaZXNiN1c3hXsUGwDONoqJW74zaoSwu4 Date Accessed: December 8, 2020

Overactive Bladder

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/14248–overactive-bladder-?fbclid=IwAR1yc5o3t-zvJcZeDbIgCSjbgs6jQzrBRWqTJZL18Z0-7a4-ZB14c-ToRP4 Date Accessed: December 8, 2020

Overactive Bladder

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/overactive-bladder/symptoms-causes/syc-20355715?fbclid=IwAR3QW6_7cu65buhEFRxEDgQbZlNSY54AIvhsO_vTxhUBAnVJ2g05qQD2FIc Date Accessed: December 8, 2020

The Aging Overactive Bladder: A Review of Aging-Related Changes from the Brain to the Bladder

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5609730/ Date Accessed: December 8, 2020

What’s to know about overactive bladder in men?

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/316967 Date Accessed: December 8, 2020

What are the symptoms of an overactive bladder?

https://www.depend.com.au/advice-and-support/causes-of-incontinence/small-bladder?fbclid=IwAR0SKlfkMTrOI4Z3KILlI5Vch2VLZQHeXOYNKRALhGFbMQnRTMVOYziOVMY Date Accessed: December 8, 2020


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Written by Kip Soliva Updated Jan 13
Fact Checked by Hello Doctor Medical Panel