Overactive Bladder: Know the Symptoms
Overactive bladder is a common condition in women where the bladder undergoes repeated and uncontrolled bladder without a cause that can be found. The bladder becomes a bag of muscle that squeezes or contracts suddenly without any control irrespective of the bladder being full or not full. Overactive bladder is also referred to as detrusor instability/overactivity or an irritable bladder. It might not be easy for a woman to know if the symptoms are an indication of an overactive bladder. Any type of urinary dysfunction can affect overall quality of life of a woman, especially overactive bladder symptoms can cause disruption and distress to life. Before a woman may start to feel embarrassed, isolate herself or limit work and social life, symptoms need to be addressed to the urogynaecologist in Chennai for evaluation, diagnosis and treatment for overactive bladder.
Know what could cause an overactive bladder
Overactive bladder commonly occurs among the aging population, though the condition is not considered a normal part of the aging process. Strokes, multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s disease are medically linked to be the conditions that could cause symptoms of an overactive bladder. Overactive bladder is found more frequently in overweight women than in women who maintain a healthy weight. A woman’s chance of experiencing overactive bladder also increases with factors such as aging, menopause and acute infections of the urinary tract. People on heavy diuretics such as excess consumption of alcohol and caffeine are more at risk of exacerbated symptoms of overactive bladder. Symptoms that occur in the absence of any predisposing factors that could be either urinary tract infections or medications is the characteristic of a non-neurogenic overactive bladder.
How to determine an overactive bladder?
An overactive bladder is determined by the frequency and urgency of urination. But that doesn’t mean that occasional urine leakage experienced during a hard laugh, continuous cough or while fighting the urge to urinate for an extended period of time can be determined as an overactive bladder. Symptoms of overactive bladder can change from time to time and be different from person to person. This manifestation of overactive bladder may be unpredictable and hence identifying the issue can be difficult. However, medical symptoms of an overactive bladder problem that the urogynaecologist in Chennai would look for can be listed as:
- Need to urinate is urgent and uncontrollable
- Loss of urine is involuntary
- Frequency of urination is more than eight times in 24 hours
- waking up at night to use the bathroom is more than twice
Women with overactive bladder often experience urinary incontinence because of the inability to reach the toilet before involuntary urination begins. These symptoms occur because the bladder muscles start to contract in response to neurological signals that are received to do so. These neurological signals are faulty because the bladder is not actually in need of emptying. Overactive bladder can also occur when bladder muscles are too active, contracting frequently and creating an urge to urinate. Most adults urinate at a frequency of four to seven times a day, whereas, an overactive bladder can make the need to use the bathroom up to 30 times a day. Even if it is possible to get to the toilet in time while there is an urge to urinate, unexpected frequent urination and night time urination caused by an overactive bladder can disrupt life.
Urinary urgency is a frequent symptom of overactive bladder
The central feature of overactive bladder that occurs during the day or night or both is urinary urgency which is defined as the sudden, compelling desire to pass urine and is difﬁcult to defer urination. Not being able to hold urine or having a small bladder is not the concern in overactive bladder, rather it is the sudden, involuntary contraction of the muscular wall of the bladder that causes the physiological impulse to urinate. Urinary urgency during the day is called diurnal urgency. Night urgency is referred to as nocturia that manifests with an abrupt awakening from sleep and a rush to the bathroom to urinate more times every night.
Urinary frequency is a central feature of overactive bladder
The need to urinate more frequently than normal, is urinary frequency. The need to urinate more than eight times within the course of 24 hours without any provoking factor is considered a central feature of overactive bladder. Urinary frequency that occurs in the absence of urinary urgency, for instance in people who drink lots of fluids, take diuretics or consume too much caffeine, overactive bladder is less likely to cause it.
Urge incontinence is experienced in overactive bladder
Urinary incontinence triggered by sudden spasm of the bladder wall causes spontaneous loss of urine known as urge incontinence or wet overactive bladder. There are other types of incontinence that occur without urgency and may be caused by failure of the urethra and pelvic floor to withstand abdominal pressure. Urge incontinence, when co-exists with another condition called stress incontinence in women, it can lead to misdiagnosis because symptoms are more often attributed to pelvic floor dysfunction than overactive bladder.
Polyuria is a measurable feature of overactive bladder
The normal adult urine output can be measured between 12 to 36 ml/kg body weight/day. According to the International Continence Society, urine output that is more than 40 milli litres per kilogram of body weight per day (mL/kg/day) is diagnosed as polyuria. Polyuria is a central feature of overactive bladder but that alone is not a clear indication of overactive bladder as it can occur with many other conditions like diabetes, kidney disease, Cushing’s syndrome etc.,
There may be other uncommon symptoms that link bowel disorders to overactive bladder. Whatever symptoms caused by overactive bladder may be greatly reduced or can disappear altogether with proper treatment as advised by the urogynaecologist in Chennai. Although overactive bladder is not life-threatening, it is a condition that can persist for years and cause isolation and emotional distress if not treated appropriately.