The condition of Overactive Bladder Syndrome (or OAB) is manifested by strong and sudden urges to urinate due to unexpected bladder contractions. These contractions are due to the detrusor muscle, which surrounds the bladder and relaxes whenever normal urination is about to take place. With patients that are experiencing OAB, this muscle is overactive and triggers the sensation to urinate far too frequently. This can lead to several different types of bladder incontinence.
One of the most common concerns with OAB is the problem with urge incontinence, which is leaking urine if a bathroom cannot be reached in time. Along with urge incontinence may come nocturia or the need to urinate several times throughout the evening. During waking hours, frequency is a widespread problem with many OAB sufferers needing to go up to ten times a day. Needless to say, all of these problems that are caused by an irritable bladder make life frustrating and potentially embarrassing for about 15% of the population.
The exact nature of the cause of this disease is still being researched. The brain signals the bladder at inappropriate times sending the body into panic mode. There are physical problems that may cause OAB type symptoms such as spinal injuries or certain diseases like Parkinson’s. This further complicates researchers because it makes it difficult to determine true Overactive Bladder Syndrome from conditions that just mimic this disease.
There are treatments that have had some success. A class of drugs called anticholinergics has proven successful for some patients. This family of drugs acts as a receptor blocker to the messages that tell the bladder to contract. The success rate is virtually the same between men and women and the side effects are mild and are usually limited to dry mouth.
Not everyone with OAB is incontinent. Some have learned how to train their muscles to fight the urges. Often simple lifestyle changes and set bathroom routines will diminish the odds of an accident. For those that suffer leakage, it is usually minor and a simple adult brief works well. Many men opt for an external catheter such as a condom catheter but they may opt for an indwelling bladder catheter to prevent the occasional leak.
A combination of lifestyle changes, medication and incontinence products can make life bearable for people suffering from this condition. Research continues and new and better drugs are always being tested. Irritable bladder will, hopefully, someday be a thing of the past.