Overactive Bladder (OAB), or urge incontinence, occurs when a person experiences urine leakage after feeling a sudden urge to urinate. This happens because the bladder muscles contract at inappropriate times, regardless of how much urine has collected in the bladder. It can happen to anyone at any age, although it is most common in women and the elderly.
OAB can be caused by neurological injuries or diseases as well as bladder problems such as infection, cancer, stones, inflammation (swelling) or obstruction (blockage). In many cases, however, a cause for OAB cannot be found.
Tests for OAB may include a physical exam, urinalysis, urine culture, urinary stress test, ultrasound, cystoscopy, and a post-void residual (PVR) test to measure how much urine is left in the bladder after urination. Your doctor will want to test for other types of incontinence as well. Treatment depends on the type and severity of symptoms, the underlying cause (if one is detected), and the patient’s and doctor’s preferences. In general, the three types of treatment are medication, retraining and surgery.