Overactive Bladder: Symptoms and Causes | Tampa General

Overactive Bladder 

An overactive bladder can greatly impact the quality of life of those who suffer from it.  

Overactive bladder is a blanket term that can describe both urinary incontinence and the need to urinate frequently during the day or at night. Individuals suffering from an overactive bladder may experience frequent embarrassment and may be limited in their work and social life options.  

Causes of an Overactive Bladder 

Some of the most common causes of an overactive bladder include: 

  • Weak pelvic muscles due to pregnancy or childbirth 
  • Nerve damage caused by disease or trauma 
  • Medications, alcohol or caffeine 
  • Infection 
  • Obesity 
  • Menopause-related estrogen deficiency 

Symptoms of an Overactive Bladder 

There is a collection of symptoms that can point to an overactive bladder. It includes: 

  • A sudden, urgent need to urinate 
  • The need to urinate more often than usual 
  • Urine leakage when the urge arises 
  • The need to get up and urinate at least twice per night 

Diagnosis of an Overactive Bladder 

Before making an overactive bladder diagnosis, a physician will rule out other potential causes. The diagnostic process will likely include a review of the patient’s medical history and a physical exam, which may include a pelvic exam for women. Next, a urinalysis may be performed to look for infection or traces of blood.  

The physician may also refer the patient to a specialist who can evaluate bladder function by: 

  • Testing to see if urine remains in the bladder after urination 
  • Measuring the urine flow rate 
  • Testing bladder pressure 

Treatments for an Overactive Bladder 

There is a wide array of treatment options for an overactive bladder, and the proper combination of treatment strategies will depend on the underlying causes. Options include:

  • Behavioral therapies and lifestyle changes  
  • Medications that can help relax the bladder muscles and reduce urge incontinence
  • Injections to relax the bladder muscles 
  • Nerve stimulation to regulate impulses to the bladder 
  • Surgery, for severe cases 

Tampa General Hospital has a skilled team of urologists and offers surgical and non-surgical treatments for urological problems and advanced diagnostic testing options.