Overactive bladder (OAB) is not a disease, but a set of symptoms. Patients with OAB experience a sudden, uncontrollable urge to urinate, often along with incontinence. They tend to urinate often through the day and night.

Overactive bladder is common, affecting approximately 33 million Americans. In fact, it likely impacts even more, but many patients who experience OAB are reluctant to seek help out of embarrassment or the mistaken belief that nothing can be done to help.

Overactive bladder can have a negative impact on quality of life, and there is no need to “suffer silently.” MedStar Georgetown urologists understand the challenges involved in living with overactive bladder, and they have the expertise and technology so you no longer need to.

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Symptoms and Causes of Overactive Bladder

There can be many different causes of overactive bladder, from urinary tract infection, nerve damage, illness, side effects of medication, or sometimes the cause is even unknown. The most common symptoms include:

  • Strong sense of urgency—The most characteristic symptom of OAB, this strong sense of “needing to go” right away may or may not be accompanied by leakage.
  • Incontinence
  • Needing to urinate frequently
  • Needing to get up in the night to urinate.

Both men and women can experience OAB. Men who have had prostate-related conditions and post-menopausal women seem to have increased risk of overactive bladder.  Young men and women can also have symptoms of OAB for a variety of reasons. People who have diseases affecting the brain or spinal cord, such as stroke and multiple sclerosis, are also at higher risk for overactive bladder. 

Diagnosis of Overactive Bladder

To diagnosis overactive bladder and plan appropriate treatment, MedStar Georgetown urologists may conduct the following:

  • Medical history, including current medications
  • Urine culture
  • Bladder scan, or ultrasound
  • Cystoscopy: A tiny tube with a camera is inserted in bladder to rule out possible causes of overactive bladder
  • Urodynamic testing: MedStar Georgetown is one of the only facilities in the area to offer advanced video urodynamic testing to fully assess the urinary tract, including kidneys and bladder, to get a comprehensive picture of urinary function.

Treatment for Overactive Bladder

Overactive bladder treatment will be tailored to each patient’s lifestyle and condition.

Treatment options may include:

  • Dietary fluid changes
  • Behavior modification
  • Medicine
  • Treating the bladder with Botox
  • Inserting a bladder pacemaker
  • Nerve stimulation
  • Other office-based procedures.

There are a wide range of management options to treat overactive bladder. Restore your ability to travel, attend events comfortably, and make it through the fasten seatbelts sign on the airplane. MedStar Georgetown urology experts can help you—not your bladder— take control of your life again.