Is it Overactive Bladder or Stress Urinary Incontinence?


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Overactive bladder is a condition in which the bladder is not able to hold urine normally. With overactive bladder,  the detrusor, a muscle in the bladder, contracts more often than it should, which makes you feel like you must urinate – even when the bladder is not full.

Overactive bladder symptoms include:

  • Increased frequency of urination – usually more than 8 times within a 24-hour period, including washroom trips in the middle of the night.
  • Sudden urgency to urinate – the feeling that you need to urinate NOW.
  • Leaking or accidents –also called urge incontinence and is the leaking of a little urine when the sudden urge to urinate occurs.

What is Urinary Incontinence?

Any involuntary leaking or passing of urine is considered urinary incontinence.  It is not a condition, but rather a symptom. There are different types of urinary incontinence.

Stress Incontinence 

When the muscles surrounding the urethra weaken (often as a result of aging, vaginal childbirth, and menopause), it is harder to prevent urine from leaking when the bladder is under pressure.  An example of stress incontinence may be leaking urine when you sneeze, cough, or laugh.

Stress incontinence is NOT the same as overactive bladder, and the treatment is different.  If you feel you have stress incontinence symptoms speak to your doctor about what treatments are available for you.

Those with stress incontinence will often wear pads or other protection in or as their undergarments.

Urge Incontinence

This type of incontinence may be a symptom of overactive bladder. It is the involuntary contracting of the detrusor muscle within the bladder and is  also called detrusor over-activity.

Combined overactive bladder and stress incontinence

It is definitely possible to have both stress incontinence and overactive bladder.  Each is treated separately.

How is Urinary Incontinence treated?

It is important to remember and remind yourself that there is hope.  Today there are several medications that can help with overactive bladder and urge incontinence. Speak to your doctor about your symptoms to determine what type of incontinence you may be experiencing, the potential cause, and possible treatment options. Along with prescription medications, other lifestyle tips often suggested include:

  • Pelvic floor exercises (Kegel exercises)
  • Maintaining a healthy diet and healthy weight
  • Avoiding alcohol and caffeine
  • Bladder training
  • Prescription medication

Prescription medication for Overactive Bladder

For overactive bladder the prescription medication Myrbetriq® has been used as treatment for many people. 

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