What Is An Overactive Bladder

Overactive bladder (OAB) is a condition that is characterized by involuntary bladder contractions. People having this condition develop frequent urges or need to urinate suddenly. These urges may occur especially during the nighttime. This uncontrollable need to urinate is not a disease or some illness, instead, it could be a symptom of some health issues.   

According to the National Institutes of Health, the bladder is an organ that functions as a reservoir and active excretory organ for urine. It eliminates the accumulated urine by contracting. Due to some reason, the bladder might function abnormally. Which can cause it to contract several times and eliminate the urine too soon.  
This uncontrollable urge can even lead to the leaking of urine if one tries to hold it for some time. This condition makes the person run to the toilet urgently otherwise it will be too late. An individual having this issue is subject to embarrassment due to their inability to control their urine, which is why they might isolate themselves.  
The urination problem can majorly affect work as well as social life. Fortunately, the condition can be treated with the help of prescription drugs and by making several necessary positive changes to the lifestyle.     


  • Sudden urinary urgency which is difficult to control. 
  • Frequent urges to urinate several times unusually.  
  • Urinary incontinence, which causes urine to pass unintentionally or leak if not passed urgently.   
  • Nocturia, which makes you wake up several times at night to pass urine.  


As per the Mayo Clinic website, the reasons that can contribute to the development of involuntary bladder contractions are as follows: 

Neurological disorders

This abnormal function of the bladder can happen because of neurological disorders and this condition is termed neurogenic bladder. In this case, the nervous system fails to control the bladder function. It might stem from some injury or disease. Some potential causes of overactive bladder include disorders such as Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, stroke, tumors, spine injuries/surgeries, accidents, trauma, and erectile dysfunction.

Urinary tract infections (UTIs)

The infection can cause irritation in the nerves of your bladder, which can cause involuntary bladder movements and contractions. The muscles of your bladder walls become hyperactive and as a result, the urine will be forced to get passed out without any indication.


Individuals with diabetes have high levels of glucose in their blood.  It can lead to bladder irritation and overactivity, due to which the bladder control changes, thereby resulting in urine incontinence.   

Hormonal fluctuations

Menopausal women are more likely to develop an overactive bladder because of hormonal changes. After menopause, the levels of estrogen hormone in women decrease drastically, which can lead to more frequent urination. When the estrogen levels drop down and estrogen deficiency happens, the chances of OAB increase.

Tumors and stones

Tumors or stone formation in the kidneys and bladder can contribute to the irritation of the bladder muscles and nerves. Which leads to abnormal bladder function.   

Prostate enlargement

An enlarged prostate can put pressure on the walls of the bladder. It may constantly push the bladder, which spills out the urine without any warning. This makes the person run to the toilet several times.

An overactive bladder (OAB) can also be attributed to several risky lifestyle factors, which are listed below –  

  • Overweight

In overweight individuals, the fat accumulation usually happens in the abdominal region. The fat deposition causes pouch formation which puts pressure in the pelvic region. The blood flow to the pelvic region gets hindered because of this.  
Also, the pressure exerted on the pelvic region can cause mobility of the organs present in the region, which can disrupt the normal functioning of the bladder. Therefore, one must maintain a healthy weight and prevent fat deposition around the waist.  
  • Alcohol

The effects of alcohol can lead to the contraction of the muscles of various organs. It can possibly affect the bladder function. Chronic drinkers are more likely to experience such a condition, and therefore they must drink alcohol in moderation.  


There are certain types of drugs that can contribute to urine incontinence. According to the WebMD website, the drugs that might cause overactive bladder are diuretics, also called water pills, antidepressants, blood pressure medications, alpha-blockers, and sleeping pills.  


Caffeine is a substance that can deteriorate bladder function. Excessive consumption of it increases the frequency of urine and makes you run to the toilet due to sudden urges.   

Diagnosis and treatment

Your healthcare provider will ask you several questions to identify the factors that led to overactive bladder function. The conclusions will be made based on the medical history, physical examination, and urine test samples. Based on the diagnostic tests, they will prescribe some medications or treatments that might include surgery, procedures, injections, and medications.  


  • Performing aerobic exercises regularly. 
  • Doing Kegel exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. 
  • Maintaining a healthy weight. 
  • Getting timely treatment for infections and chronic conditions.  
  • Eating a healthy diet. 
  • Avoiding excessive smoking and alcohol.  
  • Reducing the intake of caffeine-based foods.

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