Overactive Bladder Syndrome
Overactive Bladder Syndrome (OAB) is defined as urinary urgency, usually with urinary frequency and nocturia (waking multiple times at night to pass urine), with or without urgency urinary incontinence (loss of bladder control that specifically occurs when someone with a strong urge of needing to pass urine and is trying to get to the toilet).
Basically, it is an involuntary and sudden uncontrolled contractions “spasms” of the bladder wall muscle even when there is low volume of urine in the bladder. With OAB the bladder works overtime contracting more often than it should and at inappropriate times. This involuntary contraction creates the urgent need to urinate. In effect causing you to have much less control over when you pass urine.
It is not an unusual condition and sufferers are not alone. It is estimated that 16% of the Irish population over the age of 40 years may be affected by OAB. This is approximately 350,000 Irish people both men and women and has a significant impact of their quality of life.
The diagnosis of OAB is made on the basis of symptoms (complaint by the patient) and urodynamics can be used in some circumstances to assess the activity of the bladder muscle. OAB can co-exist with other common conditions such as stress incontinence, nocturial polyuria, benign prostrate enlargement.
Treatment of OAB includes;
- Bladder diary and bladder drills to retrain the bladder muscles
- Pelvic floor exercises to strengthen and some cases relax the pelvic floor muscles
- Lifestyle modifications
- Nerve stimulation to correct the misfiring between the brain and bladder therefore reducing the spasms
- Medication prescribed by the GP