What is Overactive Bladder?

What is Overactive Bladder?

Overactive bladder (OAB) is the name for a group of urinary symptoms with its most common symptom being a sudden, uncontrolled need or urge to urinate or the need to pass urine many times during the day and night.

Between 30 and 40% of people will experience symptoms of an overactive bladder at some point in their life. But what is it, what are its symptoms, and how can it be treated? Read our guide to find out.

What is Overactive Bladder?

To put it simply, OAB is the feeling that you need to go to the toilet urgently and frequently. Often people who experience these symptoms will also feel that OAB has an impact upon their stress levels and emotions. Without treatment, OAB symptoms can make it hard to get through the day without many trips to the bathroom leading to feelings of embarrassment, loneliness and isolation. It is important to note, however, that there are treatment options available to make life easier, and talking to health care professional is the first step you must take.


The urinary tract is an important system in our body and the bladder is just one part of this system. While a healthy bladder allows signals in your brain let you know that your bladder is getting full or is full, you can wait to go to the bathroom. Conversely, with OAB these signals don’t work properly, meaning you can’t wait, leading to a sudden, urgent need to go, even if the bladder isn’t full. The nerve signals between your bladder and brain can be affected by several things including:

  • Neurologic disorders or damage to the signals between your brain and bladder
  • Hormone changes
  • Pelvic muscle weakness or spasms
  • A urinary tract infection
  • Side effects from a medication
  • Diseases that affect the brain or spinal cord, like stroke and multiple sclerosis


If you experience any symptoms of OAB it is important to see a healthcare professional. Most likely, you will be referred to a urologist who can diagnose and treat OAB. A medical examination may include a series of questions about your medical history, your experience of the symptoms, as well as any prescription medication you may be on. A physical examination may be involved whereby a doctor may feel your abdomen, the organs in your pelvis, and your rectum to help diagnose symptoms. Other tests may include a bladder scan or urine test; however, diagnosing OAB should be relatively simple and straightforward.


There are a number of treatments available, and your doctor will recommend one or more based on your unique needs. Treatments include:

  • lifestyle changes such as diet, exercise 
  • prescription medication 
  • bladder botox treatment 
  • nerve stimulation treatment 
  • bladder reconstruction/ urinary diversion surgery 

It is important to talk to a trusted professional when it comes to your health. If you have any questions about OAB, or would like to book an appointment, please feel free to contact or call Dr Arianayagam’s office on 1300 307 990 and his staff will be able to assist.

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