Overactive Bladder

This condition can disrupts your daily life, but you can control your symptoms.


  • Frequent, strong, sudden urges to urinate
  • Going to the bathroom more than eight times in 24 hours
  • Going to the bathroom two or more times a night
  • Difficulty making it to the bathroom in time
  • Wearing pads to protect your clothes from getting wet
  • Limiting the amount of fluids that you drink


For many people, getting to the bathroom in time and knowing where the bathroom is are major concerns. Overactive bladder (OAB) is a condition that affects approximately 33 million Americans. It can disrupt activities of daily life. Women tend to be affected more commonly than men, and it occurs more frequently as people age.

Many times, a urinary tract infection may cause all of the symptoms of an overactive bladder. However, blood in the urine, whether visible or microscopically detected, needs evaluation. The most common cause of blood in the urine is a urinary tract infection (UTI). Several weeks after treatment of the UTI the urine should be rechecked to see if any blood remains. If blood is still present, further evaluation will be recommended to exclude bladder cancer, kidney cancer, urinary stones, and urinary blockages as possible sources. Though the underlying cause of OAB is unknown, the nervous system is thought to play an important role in the irritability and overactivity of the bladder. Processes such as diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis, which affect the nervous system, can initially present with urinary complaints.

Once the doctor has eliminated other causes of frequency and urgency, treatment of OAB can proceed. Management of an overactive bladder usually involves medicines. Behavioral modifications can also help control symptoms. These include timed voiding, kegel exercises, bladder retraining, dietary and lifestyle modification, and keeping a voiding diary. The simple task of keeping and paying attention to a voiding diary can be therapy in and of itself. Dietary restriction avoiding alcohol, caffeine, and spicy foods can make a major impact.