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What is Overactive Bladder?

What is Overactive Bladder?

Posted by Kevin on 2021 Oct 7th

Overactive bladder describes a range of symptoms covering the feeling of needing to urinate frequently. Sensitive bladder occurs in both men and women, but is most often diagnosed in elderly people. Some estimates show that 30-40% of people live with an overactive bladder, but it is difficult to get the real numbers, since many people with an overactive or sensitive bladder live in silence without asking for help. Sometimes people with an overactive bladder also experience urge incontinence.


Healthy adults empty their bladder 6-10 times a day. When you start needing to go or feeling the urge to go more frequently, it could be a sign of an overactive or sensitive bladder.

Causes of an overactive bladder:

Overactive or sensitive bladder covers a range of urinary symptoms and can have many causes, which is why it is important to consult a doctor or health care professional for guidance.

Generally, an overactive bladder develops from unnecessary bladder contractions, making the bladder feel full even if it is not full. These contractions make a person feel an urgent need to urinate. The overactive muscle can be caused by excessive alcohol consumption, smoking, or poor eating and drinking habits. Certain foods or drinks can cause irritation to the bladder, as can other irritants such as bladder stones. In addition, lifestyle factors, constipation, illness, diabetes, age, and many other factors can cause overactive bladder – or make the symptoms worse. For men overactive bladder can be caused by an obstruction in the urinary tract, such as an enlarged prostate. The prostate grows with age. Therefore, this problem is more common in elderly men. Due to the obstruction of the urinary tract, the bladder is under constant pressure, eventually resulting in loss of bladder control. In women, overactive bladder often occurs during pregnancy. Due to the decreased space for the bladder and the increased pressure on the bladder, pregnant women need to visit the toilet more often. Some women also experience loss of bladder control during pregnancy due to hormonal imbalances. Stress can lead to unnecessary bladder contractions and loss of bladder control as well.

*Note: A sensitive bladder caused by stress should not be confused with stress incontinence, which is the loss of bladder control due to weakening of the pelvic floor muscles. *

Solutions for an overactive bladder:

Depending on the cause, there are many different solutions for an overactive or sensitive bladder. Visiting a health care professional is an important first step in finding a solution or relieving the symptoms of the overactive bladder.

Keeping a daily urination diary is often the first step prescribed by the doctor. The diary keeps track of how often and how much a person urinates, and how much and at what times of the day a person consumes liquids. This information will help the general practitioner, pelvic floor physiotherapist or any other involved specialists determine the reasons for the bladder problems. In addition, bladder training may be recommended, and if no improvements are seen after 3 months of bladder training, medicine may be prescribed to help relax the bladder muscles. However, this medicine can have unpleasant side effects such as headaches and dry mouth, which is why it is not considered a durable solution.