Overactive bladder (OAB) is not a specific disease, but rather a group of urinary symptoms. Many of the symptoms are related to urinary frequency and urgency. About 40% of women live with overactive bladder symptoms and up to 30% of men experience symptoms as well. Some people believe that overactive bladder is a normal part of being a woman or getting older, but it is something that should be addressed as it is usually a sign of a problem that can be treated.


  • Urgency: The sudden urge to urinate that is difficult to control
  • Frequency: Urinating frequently, usually eight or more times each day
  • Leaking urine or Urge Incontinence: Inability to hold urine immediately after feeling urgency
  • Nocturia: Waking two or more times in the night to urinate

Causes of Overactive Bladder

The physical process that causes overactive bladder is involuntary bladder contractions that cause the urgent need to urinate even if the bladder is not full. Conditions and causes related to overactive bladder include:

  • Diabetes
  • Medication that increases urine production or requires an increased fluid intake
  • Excess consumption of alcohol or caffeine
  • Neurological disorders
  • Urinary tract infections 
  • Difficulty walking
  • Bladder abnormalities or obstruction
  • Bladder stones
  • Incomplete bladder emptying
  • Declining cognitive  

Diagnosing Overactive Bladder

Your doctor may use several techniques to diagnose an overactive bladder. An exam or work up to diagnose OAB might include:

  • Medical history
  • Use of a daily bladder diary
  • Urine samples to check for abnormalities or infection
  • Neurological exams focused on identifying abnormal reflexes or sensory problems
  • Ultrasound to detect urine left in the bladder after urination
  • Measuring the rate of urine flow
  • Cystometry to measure bladder pressure

Treatment Options

If you are diagnosed with overactive bladder, there are several treatment options. Treatments fall into two categories: behavioral intervention, or medication.

1. Behavioral Interventions: Altering your behavior to improve and adjust to symptoms is often recommended before medication. These techniques are often effective and they do not have the side effects associated with some medication.

  • Scheduling bathroom trips
  • Pelvic floor (Kegel) exercises
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Wearing absorbent pads
  • Bladder training

2. Medications: The medications used to treat overactive bladder are generally drugs that relax the bladder. Relaxing the bladder will reduce symptoms and decrease the number of urge incontinence episodes. There are many medications available and you can talk to your doctor about the options.

3. Prevention: Maintaining overall health and managing risk factors can lower your risk of developing overactive bladder. To help prevent OAB, you can do the following:

  • Limit consumption of diuretics like alcohol and caffeine
  • Stay at a healthy weight
  • Quit smoking
  • Get daily exercise
  • Stay on top of chronic illnesses
  • Strengthen pelvic floor muscles by doing Kegel exercises

Schedule an Appointment

At Alliance Urology Specialists, our goal is to provide the highest level of specialized urology care. Our board-certified physicians specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of a variety of urological conditions, including overactive bladder. To schedule an appointment, call Alliance Urology Specialists in Greensboro at (336) 274-1114.