What is an overactive bladder?

People who suffer from an overactive bladder suffer from a consistent urge to urinate—a feeling which you may feel is beyond your control. An overactive bladder may lead you to incontinence, or the involuntary loss of urine. The problem lies in the storage of urine in the bladder.

Having an overactive bladder may leave you feeling embarrassed. You might try to hide the problem, and limit your engagements with friends as a result. The good news is that this problem can be maintained and controlled. The first step is to visit your doctor, who will evaluate your symptoms to try to identify a cause. In most cases, though, the management of overactive bladder syndrome involves implementing behavioral strategies, such as timed urination and bladder-holding techniques. If these options don’t work, other treatments are available.


Common symptoms of an overactive bladder include the sudden urge to urinate. This urge is difficult to control, and may result in incontinence. You might begin to urinate frequently, more than eight times in a 24-hour period. An overactive bladder can also cause you to get up to urinate in the night two or more times.

Though you may, at times, be able to reach the toilet quickly enough, unexpected frequent urination, and the need to wake up several times in the night to urinate, can start to disrupt your life.

Should you see a doctor?

Having an overactive bladder is common among older adults. But contrary to popular belief, it’s not a normal part of the aging process. If your symptoms are causing you distress, consider using behavioral strategies to manage them. There are treatments which can help you.

Though you might find it difficult to broach the subject with your doctor, it’s well worth the risk. If your symptoms are disrupting your work and social life, or day-to-day activities, you should seek help.

What causes an overactive bladder?

The need to urinate frequently may be caused by involuntary contractions of the bladder, which occur even when your bladder isn’t full. These contractions creating the feeling that you need to urinate. Some health conditions and circumstances can cause this symptom. They include: neurological disorders, medications, urinary tract infections, bladder abnormalities, obstructions to the bladder, excess consumption of alcohol and/or caffeine, declining cognitive function, diabetes, difficulty walking, incomplete bladder emptying, and constipation, among others. But in general, the precise cause of an overactive bladder is unknown.

What treatments are available?

Behavioral strategies are one of the first options for treatment. They are frequently effective. Some common behavioral strategies include pelvic floor muscle exercises, weight loss, capping fluid consumption, double voiding, scheduled toilet trips, intermittent catheterization, absorbent pads, and bladder training.

When behavioral strategies are not effective, medication may help. There are drugs which can relieve the symptoms of an overactive bladder, though they include side effects such as dry eyes, dry mouth, and constipation, all of which may ultimate aggravate an overactive bladder, causing the opposite effect. Bladder injections may be helpful for severe incontinence.

Disclaimer: Information on this website is not meant to encourage the self-management of any health or wellness issue. Nor is it meant to encourage any one type of medical treatment. Any treatment or advice used may have varying results between individuals. Readers with health-related questions, are always encouraged to seek proper consultation with a physician or certified healthcare provider. No information on this website should be used to ignore any medical or health-related advice, nor should it be the root cause for a delay in a consultation with a physician or a certified healthcare provider.

No information on this website should be used to start the use of dietary supplements and vitamins, natural and herbal products, homeopathic medicine and other mentioned products prior to a consultation with a physician or certified healthcare provider.