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What is Overactive Bladder?


Overactive Bladder (OAB) syndrome is a common descriptive name for a range of problems connected to urgency. It doesn’t mean incontinence, simply that you have to urinate frequently.

Two women having coffee on the balcony


An overactive bladder, sometimes also called an irritable bladder, usually means you have a high daytime frequency and often nocturia as well. Remember, it is normal to empty the bladder 4-8 times a day. Overactive bladder is more common among older people and among women.


What causes an overactive bladder?

The level of problems caused by an overactive bladder varies from just a slightly increased frequency of the urge, to a constant urge to urinate. The causes vary and are sometimes unclear, but one factor can be obstruction of the urethra.

Irritation to the bladder

Irritation on the inside of the bladder can lead to urgency feelings. One cause is a urinary tract infection where bacteria are irritating the mucosa on the inside of the bladder. Some drinks, such as coffee and energy drinks, contain certain substances that can also cause irritation. Bladder stones are another factor. 
 
There are also different factors that can cause irritation to the bladder from the outside and thereby lead to feelings of urgency. Constipation, as well as certain gynecological conditions, such as prolapse or ovarian tumors, can irritate the bladder from the outside and also cause urgency.

Lifestyle factors and other causes

Drinking too much leads to large amounts of urine (polyuria), which causes urgency feelings and frequent visits to the toilet as the bladder quickly becomes full. Some foods, such as soups, fruit and vegetables, consist of more amounts of fluid and will therefore also increase urine output.
 
Another reason for large amounts of urine could be due to uncontrolled diabetes. High blood sugar (hyperglycemia) may cause increased thirst and urine production, i. e. polyuria.
 

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