What You Need to Know About Overactive Bladder and Urinary Incontinence

Overactive Bladder (OAB) and Urinary Incontinence are conditions that can significantly impact an individual's quality of life.


New Delhi : Overactive Bladder (OAB) and Urinary Incontinence are conditions that can significantly impact an individual’s quality of life. OAB is characterized by a frequent and sudden urge to urinate, often leading to involuntary contractions of the bladder muscles. This can result in the need to rush to the bathroom frequently, disrupting daily activities.

On the other hand, Urinary Incontinence (UI) refers to the unintentional leakage of urine, which can occur during activities such as coughing, sneezing, laughing, or even simple movements like bending over. This condition can lead to embarrassment and discomfort, as it may cause wetting of undergarments or clothing. Both OAB and urinary incontinence can have various underlying causes, ranging from muscle weakness and hormonal changes to neurological issues. Timely intervention, including medical consultation and treatment, is crucial to managing these conditions and improving the affected individual’s overall well-being.

Dr Ayush Khetrapal, Senior Urologist discusses about OAB and UI

What exactly is an overactive bladder (OAB)?

It is urgency, frequency, and nocturia. Urgency can be with or without incontinence. With incontinence, the patient may have leakage of urine. Without incontinence, there is no leakage of urine. The symptoms are urinary incontinence apart from urgency, frequency, and nocturia. So, the patient will have an involuntary leakage accompanied by urgency. The causes of it are balder dysfunction, serious disorder, infection, obesity or being overweight, nerve damage, abdominal trauma and medications, urinary tract infection (UTI), alcohol and caffeine, pregnancy, post-vaginal delivery, post-menopausal status, old age and sometimes the causes are unknown. Also, many neurological conditions such as a stroke can cause an overactive bladder. This condition is commonly seen in women when compared to men. But, one should not suffer in silence and consult the doctor on an immediate basis.

The treatment: Firstly, if the patient is obese or has diabetes or hormonal imbalance then guide the patient regarding the underlying problem by helping him/her to manage it. The treatment is of three types- noninvasive (behavioral therapy, lifestyle modification, estrogen), minimally invasive (nerve stimulation), and highly invasive (cystoplasty or bladder augmentation is a surgery that makes the bladder larger so one can hold more urine). Not treating an overactive bladder at the right time can cause bladder outlet obstruction (a blockage at the base of the bladder).

Tips to deal with an overactive bladder:  Having an overactive bladder can be a challenging condition to live with, but with the right management strategies, it is possible to regain control and improve your quality of life. One key approach is adopting a healthy lifestyle. Maintaining a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and managing stress can all have a positive impact on your bladder function. Additionally, avoiding triggers such as caffeine, alcohol, and spicy foods can help reduce the frequency of urgency. Another useful tool in managing an overactive bladder is pelvic floor exercises. Strengthening the muscles that support the bladder can help control urination and reduce leakage.

Kegel exercises are one type of pelvic floor exercise that involves squeezing and relaxing the muscles used to stop urine flow. These exercises should be done regularly for optimal results with the help of a physiotherapist. Medications may be prescribed by your doctor to help calm an overactive bladder muscle or increase its capacity. Empty the bladder fully every time you go to the washroom.

One can also take behavioral therapy to overcome this problem. Every 3-4 hours one should pass the urine so train your bladder and you will surely be able to improve the quality of life. Remember that bladder wellness is equally important and you may not need medications. Also, drink enough water but don’t go overboard. It is essential to stay hydrated.

Those who have an overactive bladder should decrease their fluid intake 2 hours before sleeping at night. So, determine the underlying cause behind the overactive bladder and seek timely medical help. Don’t feel shy and speak to the urologist for prompt diagnosis.