Symptoms of Overactive Bladder
Are your bathroom needs taking up too much of your attention? Urinating is such a mundane aspect of daily life – that is, until your bladder begins to act up. A sudden need to go, lots of nighttime visits to the toilet or an embarrassing leak can be signals that the muscles around your bladder are misfiring and will likely need some help to get back on track. These are all symptoms of overactive bladder to be aware of.
Overactive bladder (OAB) is not uncommon, but it is also not normal, although it is usually easily treated and often reversed with behavioral strategies or medication. However, since other conditions can mimic the symptoms of OAB, it is important to get these bladder symptoms checked out as soon as you can, in order to rule out more serious problems and get treatment underway.
1. A Feeling of Urgency
One of the hallmarks of overactive bladder is an urgent need to go. You could be sitting, walking, eating, or doing absolutely nothing when that sudden urge strikes – an unpredictable problem that can lead to a fair bit of anxiety and nervousness in your daily life. This type of bladder issue is known as urge incontinence, and it is one of the most common forms of overactive bladder. It doesn’t always involve leaking urine, but often the urge comes anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes before the bladder begins to empty (whether or not you have made it to the toilet in time).
2. Frequent Urination
In many cases, urinating too often is a sign of a bladder or urinary tract infection, but it can also point to a more chronic disorder. Everybody has different bathroom habits, and what you eat and drink can greatly affect the amount you need to urinate. However, frequent urination – that is, going more than eight times in one day – can signal a problem with your bladder or kidneys and calls for a trip to the doctor. Frequent urination is often one off the first symptoms of urge incontinence, so you may find the need to go starts to come on more suddenly.
3. Getting Up at Night to Urinate
Drinking too much liquid before bed – especially diuretics, like alcohol – can make anyone visit the bathroom in the middle of the night. However, if you find that most nights you are waking up more than once with an urge to empty your bladder, you should see your doctor about a potential problem. This issue is known as nocturia, and although it may seem like a minor inconvenience, the longer you allow your bladder to interrupt your sleep, the more likely you will begin to suffer the consequences of poor sleep patterns.
4. Little Leaks
Contrary to the sudden, unmistakable onset of urge incontinence, stress incontinence leads to uncontrollable leaks without much warning. A little laugh, cough, or sneeze may be all it takes to leak a bit of urine, or else you might lose some control of your bladder when you jog, lift, or strain your muscles in some other way. It’s a relatively-common bladder condition in younger women, and although it is not technically the type of incontinence that comes with overactive bladder, it can sometimes occur alongside urge incontinence in OAB cases.
5. Sudden Larger Leaks
Typically a feature of urge incontinence, a sudden big leak, is not only embarrassing, but it is a signal that your bladder issues may be advancing. In some cases, major leakage points to nerve damage in or around the bladder, possibly from an underlying chronic condition like diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, or an untreated UTI. On the other hand, it may be a straightforward symptom of OAB that the right medication and exercises can cure. In either case, you do not have to put up with the worry or humiliation – get your bladder leakage checked out so treatment can get underway.
6. Weak Urine Stream
Half of the cases of OAB in men can be traced to an enlarged prostate, which can put pressure on the bladder or interfere with the urethra. In these cases, the sudden urge to urinate can be strong, but you may notice a relatively-weak stream when you do go, even if your bladder feels very full. In other cases, the urine stream starts and stops, and you may not feel like you have completely emptied your bladder by the end. If the prostate is not to blame, your OAB symptoms might be caused bladder stones or another obstruction, so consult your doctor for appropriate tests.
7. Changes in Your Routine
Sometimes symptoms of overactive bladder are less obvious, and your brain begins to adjust your behavior before you are even conscious of a bladder problem. For instance, you may have started to scout out restrooms more often, or maybe you have avoided some social events for fear of having an accident. If you notice that your bladder issues are on your mind all the time when you are out and about, you probably have a case of OAB. Instead of trying to ignore the inconvenience, take control with an accurate diagnosis and a good treatment plan, and soon you will be feeling much more comfortable in public spaces.
If your bladder needs and worries are beginning to interfere with your daily obligations and favorite hobbies, it is vital that you get the help you need. It can be a little awkward to discuss bathroom habits with anyone, including doctors, but the alternative is worse. If left untreated, many people with OAB will suffer from social isolation, inactivity, and even depression, and these can have far-reaching, long-term consequences for your physical and emotional health.