Overactive bladder is a condition where the patient has an abrupt urge to urinate. Stopping this urge can be difficult, which means the person may suffer from involuntary urine loss. The major problems this causes include feelings of embarrassment, isolation, and limited social and work life. Luckily, a short evaluation is often enough to figure out any specific cause for this problem.

Management of this issue usually starts with the use of behavioral strategies, including timed voiding, fluid schedules, and bladder holding methods, which make use of the pelvic floor. If these efforts are unable to mitigate the symptoms, medications can be availed after consulting with a doctor at an affordable health clinic near you.


One or more of the following things may occur if you have an overactive bladder.

  • A sudden uncontrollable urge to urinate
  • Urge incontinence, which is when urine is lost involuntarily, immediately following the need mentioned above
  • Frequent urination, to the tune of eight times or more inside 24 hours
  • Getting up two to three times in the night to urinate

While you may somehow reach the toilet before losing control, unexpected and frequent urination can get bad enough to disrupt your life. This is not the same as the loss of bladder control seen in older adults, which means a person of any age can develop an overactive bladder. If this happens, it is best to head to an affordable health clinic right away and get yourself diagnosed.


Urine, which is produced in the kidneys, drains into the bladder, and then through a bottom opening and into the urethra. For women, the last is located just over the vagina; while for men, it is at the end of the penis. When the bladder fills, nerve signals start getting sent to the brain, which eventually set off a need to urinate. While urinating, pelvic floor and urethral muscle relaxation are coordinated by nerve signals. The bladder muscles tighten, and this pushes the urine out.

Involuntary Bladder Contractions

Overactive bladder is a result of the bladder muscles contracting involuntarily, despite the level of urine inside being low. This causes the person an urgent need to relieve him or herself. The following signs may be seen in people with this problem.

  • Excess caffeine or alcohol consumption
  • Difficulty walking, leading to bladder urgency at times when you cannot reach the bathroom quickly enough
  • Incomplete bladder emptying, often causing symptoms of overactive bladder, because you have less storage space left for urine
  • Neurological disorders, like multiple sclerosis and stroke
  • Diabetes
  • Declining cognitive function caused by aging, which may cause it to be harder for the bladder to recognize signals received from the brain
  • Acute urinary tract infections which can cause similar symptoms to overactive bladder
  • Factors which may obstruct bladder outflow
  • Bladder abnormalities, such as bladder stones or tumors
  • Medications which cause rapid rise in urine production

Risk Factors

Advanced age brings higher risk of your bladder becoming overactive. There is also a higher chance of developing disorders and diseases, like for example, diabetes, and an enlarged prostate. These things can play a part in other, separate problems relating to balder function. For instance, a lot of people suffering from cognitive decline due to Alzheimer’s or after a stroke, have a higher tendency to develop this condition. The incontinence, which is often a part of this, can be effectively managed by adopting prompted voiding, fluid schedules, bowel programs, and absorbent garments.


Any level of incontinence can be a detriment to good quality of life, and this can bring in other problems in its wake, including but not limited to the following.

  • Interrupted sleep cycles and sleep disturbances
  • Anxiety
  • Issues with sexuality
  • Depression or emotional distress

A doctor at a low income medical clinic would recommend treating associated conditions in order to check if that can be done in a way which also resolves your urinary symptoms to some extent. Mixed incontinence is another problem that a lot of females have, where stress and urge incontinence occur simultaneously. Treating stress incontinence is usually ineffective when it comes to mitigating the symptoms of overactive bladder.

In older people, there usually occurs a common grouping of bladder storage issues and bladder-emptying problems. The bladder usually puts forth a lot of urgency and sometimes even incontinence, but fails to empty well. A specialist can help with this, but treatment can take a long while to bear fruit.

Healthy lifestyle choices can reduce chances of overactive bladder, and includes a variety of changes and practices such as keeping a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, quitting smoking, limiting alcohol intake, managing diabetes and any other choric conditions you may be suffering from, and doing kegel exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles.

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    About the Author

    Dr. Ghassan M. Al-Jazayrly, MD

    A graduate of University of Aleppo Faculty of Medicine, Dr. Al-Jazayrly or, as he is colloquially known: Dr. AJ, is an oncologist and hematologist of a Complete Care Community Health Center (CCCHC) with more than 36 years of experience. In recent years, he’s been involved with a non profit organization known as Every Woman Counts (EWC) which provides free breast and cervical cancer screening and diagnostic services to California’s underserved populations in order to eliminate health disparities for low-income individuals.

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