When you have overactive bladder (OAB), your bladder muscles contract too soon. This gives you a strong sudden need to urinate, even when your bladder isn’t full and creates a “gotta go” sensation. You may also have urge urinary incontinence, meaning you leak urine after you have a sudden urge.
As we age, women and men are more at risk of developing overactive bladder, but it’s not a normal part of aging. Talk to your doctor if you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms.
- strong, sudden urges to urinate
- urinating more than 8 times in 24 hours or waking more than 2 times at night to urinate
- not making it to the bathroom in time
- accidental loss of urine in small or large amounts
Overactive Bladder Testing
To diagnose OAB and rule out other conditions, your doctor will do a physical exam and discuss your medical history. In addition, a urologist may order the following tests:
- Urinalysis: a sample of your urine to check for infection, blood or other abnormalities
- Urodynamic Testing: a series of tests to measure how well your bladder and urethra function
Overactive Bladder Treatment
There are many treatment options for overactive bladder. Most people who are treated see an improvement in their symptoms.
- Lifestyle Changes: Adjusting activities that make your OAB symptoms worse – such as eating or drinking caffeine or acidic foods – is the first step in treating OAB. (Review the list of potential bladder irritants)
- Bladder Retraining: Through retraining, you learn to resist the urge to go and increase control over how much urine your bladder can hold. Your doctor can set up a retraining schedule for you.
- Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy: Working with a physical therapist or health care provider who specializes in the pelvic floor muscles can help you learn to strengthen and control the muscles involved in urination. One type of exercise to strengthen the pelvic floor is called a Kegel.
- Medications: These relieve the frequent urges by blocking the nerve that signals your bladder to contract too soon.
- Electrical Stimulation and Neuromodulation sends small pulses of electricity to your pelvic muscles to make them tighter and stronger
- Injections of botulinum toxin (BOTOX®) into the bladder muscle to keep it from contracting too often. This treatment wears off and will need to be repeated in 6-9 months
What is considered a normal number of times to urinate in a day?
The number of times you need to urinate each day varies based on your fluid intake, but generally, you should urinate no more than 8 times in 24 hours.
Will limiting the amount of water I drink help my overactive bladder?
While it may seem like a good idea, limiting fluids can cause your urine to be more concentrated and irritate your bladder, making you have to urinate more often.