Incontinence (OAB)

Written by eHealth Navigator

What is Incontinence or Overactive Bladder?

Overactive Bladder or OAB affects an estimated 33 million Americans, yet remains under treated. One possible reason for this is that patients may be embarrassed to discuss their overactive bladder symptoms with a physician and often develop coping strategies, such as planning “escape routes” to restrooms in public places, which allow them to delay seeking treatment. Also, OAB medications tend to have numerous unwanted side effects.  

What are the symptoms of Incontinence or Overative Bladder?

Symptoms of overactive bladder, which include frequent and sudden urges to urinate and wetting accidents, works by helping to calm the bladder muscle that causes frequent, sudden urges to urinate.

What are the causes of Incontinence or Overactive Bladder?

The most common types of urinary incontinence in women are stress urinary incontinence and urge urinary incontinence.  Women with both problems have mixed urinary incontinence.  Stress urinary incontinence is caused by loss of support of the urethra which is usually a consequence of damage to pelvic support structures as a result of childbirth.  It is characterized by leaking of small amounts of urine with activities which increase abdominal pressure such as coughing, sneezing and lifting.  Urge urinary incontinence is caused by uninhibited contractions of the detrusor muscle. It is characterized by leaking of large amounts of urine in association with insufficient warning to get to the bathroom in time.  Caffeine beverages also stimulate the bladder.

For men enlarged prostate is the most common cause of incontinence in men after the age of 40; sometimes prostate cancer may also be associated with urinary incontinence. Moreover drugs or radiation used to treat prostate cancer can also cause incontinence. 

Disorders like multiple sclerosis, spina bifida, Parkinson's disease, strokes and spinal cord injury can all interfere with nerve function of the bladder.

How is it treated?

Patients are typically prescribed antimuscarinicsn medication for incontinence.  Each incontinence drug is different, but they all work by relaxing the bladder muscle, reducing spasms that can cause urgency and leakage. Common side effects from antimuscarinics  are dry mouth, constipation, dry skin, dry eyes, and upset stomach.

Last Updated on Friday, 8 March 2013 3:29PM