What Is Overactive Bladder?

An overactive bladder (OAB) is an extremely common urologic condition affecting approximately 33 million people a year. This number is likely higher because many individuals often do not seek treatment for OAB and may feel embarrassed to discuss their symptoms with a physician.

An overactive bladder can interfere with daily activities, diminishing the quality of your life. Penn urologists effectively treat OAB so that you can get back to enjoying your life.

Emptying the bladder requires a coordinated effort between the kidneys, nerve signals, and muscle contractions. Nerve signals between the bladder and the brain alert the body that the bladder is full. Then, the bladder muscles contract to empty the bladder during urination. If there is a problem with any of these system functions, than an overactive bladder can occur. Problems can arise when nerve signals are sending messages that the bladder is full, even when it is not, causing a feeling of urgency to urinate.

Common Causes of Overactive Bladder

  • Neurological disorders
  • Diabetes
  • Poor kidney function
  • Acute urinary tract infections
  • Bladder stones
  • Bladder cancer
  • High fluid intake
  • Bladder obstruction
  • Enlarged prostate

Symptoms of Overactive Bladder

Common symptoms of overactive bladder include:

  • A constant sensation that you need to urinate
  • Incontinence
  • Frequent urination
  • Frequent nighttime urination (two or more times)

Treatment at Penn

There are a variety of effective treatments for OAB including:

  • Pelvic floor exercises
  • Bladder training by gradually delaying the time in between urination
  • Controlling fluid consumption
  • Double voiding - After emptying the bladder wait a few moments before attempting to urinate again to completely empty the bladder
  • Medication
  • Sacral nerve stimulation
  • Surgery

Penn Programs & Services for Overactive Bladder

Overactive Bladder Program

Our teams are improving quality of life for those with overactive bladder.

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