OAB truths and myths

Understanding OAB

It’s no surprise bladder problems aren’t discussed much. They come with stigmas. But misunderstanding creates confusion. Here we deal with the facts about what OAB is and what it isn’t.

Is overactive bladder a normal part of ageing?

Myth. Although bladder control problems are more common in older individuals, OAB can affect people of all ages.

Overactive bladder. It’s a woman’s disease, right?

Myth. OAB is actually only slightly more common in women than in men, with 10.8% of men and 12.8% of women diagnosed with OAB.1

Do urinary symptoms in men indicate prostate disease?

Not always. It could be Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH), a condition that more commonly occurs in men over 60 years of age as a result of an enlarged prostate. BPH is NOT to be confused with prostate cancer.

OAB makes you leak when you laugh hard or sneeze.

Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI) is leaking when you laugh, cough or sneeze and is due to weak pelvic floor muscles.

Urge Urinary Incontinence (UUI) is leaking when you can’t get to a bathroom in time when you feel the urge to go. This is often caused by an overactive bladder.

People can have both SUI and UUI at the same time. This is called Mixed Urinary Incontinence (MUI).

Do I need to drink less water to control an overactive bladder?

Myth. It’s not healthy to limit your water intake. Although you’ll make less urine, it may be more highly concentrated, which can irritate the bladder. (You might actually need to urinate more often.)

Is it true there’s nothing I can do about an overactive bladder?

Myth. OAB symptoms can be very bothersome for many people. But there are ways to manage and improve symptoms of OAB. Simple dietary changes, pelvic floor muscle exercises and bladder retraining can all help. Doctors can also prescribe medications and even some surgical procedures if they feel it is appropriate.

Remember. If you are bothered by your symptoms, ask your doctor for a proper diagnosis and advice on how to manage them.

1. Irwin DE et al. Eur Urology 2006;50:1306–15.