Expert Answers About Overactive Bladder


Daniel Elliott, MD

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While not usually a serious physical condition, overactive bladder (OAB) can be extremely inconvenient and take a serious toll on your quality of life. Urologist Daniel Elliott, MD, answers the most common questions he hears about OAB.

1. Q: What is overactive bladder?

A: Overactive bladder (OAB) is characterized by spasms in the bladder, and a sudden and frequent urge to urinate. You may feel perfectly fine, and then, the next second, have to race to the bathroom. The urge is often difficult to stop, and could lead to some urine leaking (incontinence). Though on occasion it could be a sign of something more serious like a bladder infection, OAB is not life threatening but more an inconvenience. It hampers daily life and activities you used to enjoy because of the fear of wetting your pants.

OAB can happen to anyone, but it’s often seen in older adults, obese individuals, or those with certain neurological disorders, like multiple sclerosis. It can sometimes be caused by radiation from certain cancers, but in the vast majority of cases, we don’t know what causes it.

It’s not something people want to talk about, but overactive bladder is more common than you might think. Make sure you can separate fact from fiction.

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Nov 6, 2015