Overactive Bladder

Overactive Bladder

What is Overactive Bladder?

Overactive bladder (OAB) is a common medical condition where the bladder muscle (detrusor) contracts too often or spontaneously and involuntarily. You may feel the need to pass urine more frequently and/or urgently than is necessary and some may also experience incontinence.

Most commonly OAB is found in neurologically normal individuals.

It is not always easy to identify a common feature responsible for bladder over-activity, however the following are possible causes:

  • Urinary tract infection – a bacterial infection of the bladder/kidneys.  
  • Outflow obstruction - men with benign prostatic obstruction may complain of symptoms of overactive bladder.
  • Neurogenic - those with conditions such as Parkinsons Disease, Multiple Sclerosis or those who have suffered a stroke may also develop overactive bladder. Medicines - some medications may be associated with overactive bladder. These include diuretics, phenothiazides, opioids. 
  •  Alcohol/caffeinated beverages - can increase symptoms of OAB.

Patients may experience some or all of the following symptoms:

  • Frequency - The need to pass urine more than 8 times during the day.
  • Nocturia - The need to get out of bed at night to pass urine more than once. Click here for more information on Nocturia
  • Nocturnal Enuresis - Urinating during sleep.
  • Urgency - The sudden need to pass urine before reaching a toilet. 
  • Coital incontinence - Leaking urine during sex.

Overactive bladder can affect women, men and children of any age. Sufferers are predominately adult women with adult men coming a close second.

In two large studies it was found that approximately one in six adults reported some symptoms of an overactive bladder. Symptoms vary in their severity. About one in three people with an overactive baldder have episodes of urge incontinence. 

Incidents of overactive bladder can increase with age. Those with overactive bladders do not always seek medical help or advice due to embarrassment or the belief that there is no help available because it is a natural consequence of aging or for women it is a consequence of childbirth.

I found Bladder health so helpful at this time. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them to others.

All aspects of quality of life may be affected when suffering from an overactive bladder. Travelling may be difficult due to concerns over possible urine leakage or locating the nearest toilet.

If a person suffers from uncontrolled bladder leakage, there may be an increased amount of washing, drying and ironing. Using pads or waterproof items may be beneficial.

Individuals with overactive bladder may feel distress, embarrassment, inconvenience, loss of self-esteem and self-control. There will also be an effect on the sufferers’ personal relationships with others.

It can be beneficial to join Bladder Health UK and gain further information on treatments and lifestyle tips to help gain control of your symptoms.

How can BHUK help you, if you join us?


Members Magazine "Your Bladder Health", published 3 times per year.


An excellent booklet written to provide practical help and advice.


Telephone Advice Line – 0121 702 0820


Telephone contact - with a BHUK Phone-Pal and fellow sufferer.


Comprehensive Resources - fact sheets, DVDs, lending library, Can't Wait Cards and much more.


Message Forums- exchange personal experiences of bladder illness with others.


Social Media sites including Facebook @BladderHealthUK and Twitter #bladdersupport

Area Co-ordinator

Area Co-ordinator - providing an opportunity to have personal contact with other sufferers.

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