4 Warning Signs of an Overactive Bladder


Gina Garippo

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Worried Mature Woman

Not being able to "hold it" and experiencing sudden urine leaks is all too common. But when does an occasional issue become a big enough reason to seek treatment? There are no rules when it comes to bladder problems. Typically, doctors recommend treatment when symptoms become too bothersome. How do you know when you've reached that point?

  • 1.

    Your social life has diminished.

    People who have an overactive bladder suffer not only physical effects, but social ones, as well. Fear of having an accident or anxiety about finding a bathroom can take its toll. Many people who have an overactive bladder begin avoiding social situations. And that's a big price to pay. Seeking treatment can allow you to regain your social life by helping to reduce symptoms. It can also teach you how to modify your lifestyle to better control the problem.

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  • 2.

    You're losing sleep.

    If you're getting up two or more times at night to urinate or have to "go" eight or more times in a 24-hour period, it may be a sign that you need help for bladder problems. Spending too much time in the bathroom can cost you precious sleep. It can also occupy time better spent on more enjoyable activities. Pay attention to how often you visit the facilities. Calculating this time can actually awaken you to the seriousness of the problem.

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  • 3.

    You make clothing choices based primarily on your bladder problem.

    Perhaps you wear only dark or loose-fitting clothing to conceal wetness. Or maybe you always stash extra clothes in your bag in case of an accident. Although these can be effective ways to cope with an overactive bladder, they may signal an ongoing problem. Bladder problems are common, but they aren't normal. If you feel like you're constantly worried about a leak, it may be time to find relief.  Not only can treatment reduce symptoms, it can lift the emotional weight of having to deal with the problem.

  • 4.

    Traveling—whether flying across the country or driving across town—makes you break out in a sweat.

    Many people with bladder problems avoid car trips or other excursions because a bathroom isn't always readily available. If bladder issues are causing you to change your lifestyle or stick too close to home, it's time to seek relief. Urge incontinence, the strong, sudden need to urinate, can make for nervous travel. But there are many proven treatments to help reduce those urges. These include medications, exercises, behavior modification, biofeedback, and even surgery.

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How Often Should You "Go"?

Most adults urinate four to seven times per day. If your daily routine is far in excess of that, talk with your doctor. 
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Medical Reviewers: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Dec 20, 2017

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Medical References

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  2. Bladder Control Problems, National Urogynecologic Association, May 2008 (http://www.mypelvichealth.org/WhatarePelvicFloorDisorders/BladderControlProblems/tabid/85/Default.as...
  3. What is Incontinence? National Association for Continence, updated May 4, 2010 (http://www.nafc.org/bladder-bowel-health/)
  4. What Every Woman Should Know, National Association for Continence, updated Dec. 7, 2010 (http://www.nafc.org/bladder-bowel-health/what-is-incontinence/what-every-woman-should-know/)
  5. Urge Incontinence, MedLine Plus, March 5, 2010 (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001270.htm)
  6. Incontinence: Coping Away From Home, WebMD.com, accessed May 2, 2011  (http://www.webmd.com/urinary-incontinence-oab/coping-08/vacation-tips)