The Better Health Channel describes overactive bladder (OAB) as 'a condition that results from sudden, involuntary contraction of the muscle in the wall of the bladder. Overactive bladder causes a sudden and unstoppable need to urinate (urinary urgency), even though the bladder may only contain a small amount of urine. Although it can happen at any age, overactive bladder is especially common in older adults. It should never be considered a normal part of aging."
Symptoms of OAB include the regular need or urge to urinate which may result in accidents or regular waking throughout the night to use the bathroom.
A high percentage of men and women have overactive bladder and most have not been diagnosed as they're too embarrassed to seek help from a medical practitioner. OAB can be monitored and treated and does not need to affect your work, social life, exercise or sleep.
A GP will initially assess overactive bladder (OAB) and then refer you to a specialist if need be such as a Urologist or Urogynaecologist who will provide appropriate treatment options.
Lifestyle changes such as losing weigh (if need be), increasing fibre in the diet, altering fluid intake, avoiding caffeine and alcohol.
Behavioural training including bladder training and pelvic floor exercises.
If lifestyle and behavioural changes do not decrease the OAB symptoms there are several medications available that a specialist can prescribe. In rare cases surgery such as bladder augmentation may be suggested, as a last resort.
Dr Danielle Delaney: 'If you are embarrassed to speak to your GP about overactive bladder take the questionnaire on this website and use it as a conversation starter for your appointment."
For more information, phone the National Continence Helpline 1800 33 00 66.