About frequency, urge and nocturia - overactive bladder syndrome
Frequency and Urge incontinence are the second most common bladder control complaint after stress incontinence. Women experience frequency and urge incontinence in higher numbers than men. Frequency is when you believe you visit the toilet too many times. The International Continence Society defines frequency as going to the toilet more than you believe is normal. Urge incontinence occurs when your bladder contracts without you intentionally wanting it to, leaving you little or no time to get to the bathroom. The symptom combination of frequency, urge and nocturia (being woken up at night to urinate) that do not have any medical reason for their occurrence is known as Overactive Bladder Syndrome (OAB).
The strong feeling to pass urine is known as an urge. It results when your bladder tells your brain that it is full, even when it is not. Normally a person’s bladder will give your brain a couple of warning messages, the first message telling you to consider finding a toilet soon. A little time later a second message is sent, telling you to empty your bladder immediately. This urgent call to empty your bladder is also accompanied by your bladder contracting. Having strong pelvic floor muscles will assist you to reduce this urgency and hold the urine in the bladder until you get to a toilet. Some people with urgency can use their pelvic floor muscle well and remain dry while other people with weaker pelvic floor muscle control experience urine loss.
Urge, Frequency and Nocturia - OAB Treatment
Just because you suffer from urge or OAB incontinence doesn’t mean that you should restrict your daily activities or social life. Urge incontinence responds well to the right incontinence treatment .
What treatment option you choose for your urge incontinence will normally depend on the underlying cause affecting you. As urge incontinence is normally a result of another underlying condition, that condition needs to be correctly identified so that you can be treated appropriately. Once you know the cause, your doctor will usually start by treating your urge incontinence condition using treatment options that are appropriate for you. The most common forms of conservative management are simple lifestyle changes, pelvic floor exercises and bladder retraining. The doctor may also consider prescribing an anticholinergic medication if they feel you have need.
If your urge or OAB incontinence is left untreated and unresolved, it can greatly affect the your social, professional and sex life, so it’s best to get treatment sooner rather than later.
Here are the most commonly used urge or OAB incontinence treatment techniques, exercises and tips:
Recent studies put the number of people worldwide suffering from urge incontinence at between 50 and 100 million. So, remember you aren’t alone. Urge incontinence can cause a great amount of lifestyle stress and disruption. Don’t see urge incontinence as an inevitable part of your life, fight back and regain control over your bladder. Use the advice given here and seek help, advice and support from your doctors, nurses and physiotherapist’s. They are well versed in these afore-mentioned treatment techniques and they will help you gain a real improvement in your quality of life.
What causes strong feelings of urgency in OAB?
Urge incontinence is often caused by an underlying neurological (nerve) condition that disrupts the messages between the brain and bladder. Strong feelings of bladder fullness can also be caused by bladder infections, constipation or stem from long-standing poor toileting habits, “going just in case”. People in older age groups are also known to experience higher rates of urge incontinence. In some cases, the cause of urge incontinence may not be known.
Common conditions that cause strong symptoms of urge are:
- UTI’s (urinary tract infections)
- Enlarged prostate
- Parkinson's disease
- Alzheimer’s disease
- A stroke or other brain injury
- Multiple sclerosis
Urge incontinence is caused by bladder spasms, which create the feeling of urgency. These bladder spams can also disturb your sleep, multiple times over-night, this is known as nocturia. Most people with urge incontinence also report that the amount of urine they leak is much larger volumes than what is usually reported by people with stress incontinence. Feelings of urgency are also a key symptom of Overactive Bladder Syndrome or unstable bladder.
Urge incontinence is usually not accompanied by any burning sensation or an unusual urine odour when you urinate. If at any time, you notice these symptoms there is a good chance that you have a urinary tract infection. In this case, you should always seek advice from your GP.