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Overactive Bladder

Causes of Overactive Bladder

Overactive bladder happens when people can't hold their urine long enough to get to the toilet in time. Healthy people can have overactive bladder, but it is often found in people who have nerve damage. Involuntary actions of bladder muscles can occur because of damage to the nerves of the bladder, to the nervous system (spinal cord and brain), or to the muscles themselves. This typically occurs in diseases such as:

What Are the Symptoms?

Overactive bladder symptoms include:
  • Frequent urination
  • A strong, sudden need to urinate
  • Inability to get to the bathroom in time, after the urge.

Making a Diagnosis

The first step in treating overactive bladder is to see a doctor. He or she will give you a physical exam, and ask about your medical history. The doctor will ask about your symptoms, and the medicines you use. He or she will want to know if you have been sick recently, or if you've had surgery. Your doctor may also do a number of tests to help in diagnosing overactive bladder. These might include:
  • Urine tests
  • Blood tests
  • Tests that measure how well you empty your bladder.
In addition, in order to help diagnose overactive bladder, your doctor may ask you to keep a daily diary of when you urinate, and when you leak urine. Your pattern of urinating and urine leakage may suggest which type of incontinence you have.
(Click Diagnosing Overactive Bladder for more information.)
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