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5 Signs you have an overactive bladder

5 Signs you have an overactive bladder

At best, an overactive bladder is a major inconvenience, making you the butt of jokes at the office and family events. At worst, it interrupts favorite pastimes and activities, makes it impossible to get through an entire movie from start-to-finish, and can even lead to leakage - which adds another layer of discomfort, frustration and embarrassment to the mix.

There’s More to Life Than Finding the Next Bathroom

Sometimes, an overactive bladder starts out so insignificantly, and exacerbates so slowly, that you don’t even notice. However, if you unconsciously structure life so you’re never far from the nearest bathroom, it’s time to seek a little professional support.

5 Signs you have an overactive bladder include:

  1. Having to get up two or more times a night to go to the bathroom.
  2. Urinating more frequently than is normal for you (on average, adults urinate about 8 times a day, and once at night, even 10 to 12 times during the day might be normal). If you notice you’re going more than is normal for you, it’s worth evaluating.
  3. Leakage (urinary incontinence) of a few drops or a mini-, half-, or full-blown accident.
  4. The sudden, overwhelming urge to urinate when you didn’t feel like you had to go before.
  5. Your life is dictated by your bladder (you have to park near restrooms, sit near restrooms, establish where the restroom is when you arrive at any destination, have to use the restroom before a short drive “just in case...”

While certain lifestyle changes or medications might do the trick for a short time, underlying causes of overactive bladder will typically increase over time. It’s always worth scheduling an appointment to determine why your bladder is so active these days. A simple diagnosis may lead to treatment that will change your overactive bladder’s life.

Most common causes of an overactive bladder (OAB)

Here are some of the most common causes of an overactive bladder:

Infection or bladder stones

If you have a urinary tract infection (UTI) or an infection of the tissues comprising the urinary tract, it can cause irritation and frequent and/or painful urination. However, not all UTIs cause pain. In fact, children and seniors are notorious for having UTIs without the typical burning or painful sensations typically associated with one, which is one reason why frequent urination should always be investigated. If it is a latent infection, it can progress further, leading to other, more systemic infections.

Bladder stones can also cause OAB.

Caffeine, alcohol and hibiscus

What you drink affects urination habits. Caffeinated and alcoholic beverages are known for causing more frequent urination, and teas including hibiscus can irritate the bladder and urethra lining.


If you aren’t drinking enough water, urine becomes very concentrated and this can irritate the urinary tract. Urine should be a pale yellow color. If it’s dark yellow to orange, it’s a sign of dehydration.

Prostate issues

After infection, prostate issues are the most common cause of OAB in men. This does not mean they have prostate cancer. Prostates can become inflamed or enlarged as the result of, benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), or prostitis (prostate infection). BPH affects roughly 50% of men by the age of 60, and 90% of men will experience OAB by the time they’re 85. Of course, if the prostate is enlarged and/or you have a personal or medical history of prostate cancer, your doctor will ensure prostate blood counts are healthy to rule out the chance of cancer.

Vaginal birth and menopause

Women are most prone to OAB because they experience more UTIs.  Additionally, anatomical changes as the result of vaginal birth, and then menopause, can also cause muscular/tissue weakening in the bladder and urinary tract. If these changes are severe enough, or not supported through pelvic floor exercises and a healthy lifestyle, they will lead to urinary incontinence, OAB and other issues.

Certain medical conditions

Patients with diabetes are more prone to OAB, as are those who suffer from neurological conditions, like Parkinson’s, stroke, MS, or Alzheimer’s.

If you suspect you’re urinating more often than “normal”, or worry that “something’s just not right,” contact us here at Palouse Specialty Physicians. We have a fantastic urology department, and a single consultation can get you back on track again…allowing you to place your attention on anything other than the next bathroom.

Published on April 24, 2017