Skip to content

50+: Live Better, Longer

Font Size
A
A
A

When You Need to Go, Go, Go

Find Relief

WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Gary D. Vogin, MD

There you are in a deep sleep when it happens again: Themounting pressure on your bladder, the sensation to urinate, the inability to avoid leaking a little before making it to the bathroom. It happens several times a night. And you may have been living with this discomfort and inconvenience for years.

This frequent urge to urinate during the night or day, perhaps even to the point where it?s almost impossible to "hold it," may be due to an overactive bladder. According to the American Foundation for Urologic Disease, overactive bladder affects about one out of every 11 adults, and this is likely an underestimate because many people are too embarrassed to talk about the problem with their doctor. Some people also will leak urine when they feel the urge to urinate, a condition called urge incontinence.

Recommended Related to Healthy Seniors

Keeping Seniors Safe in Their Own Homes

Does your home seem less accommodating than it used to? Join the club. That tends to happen as we age. Toilets are suddenly too low, cabinets too high, and steps and loose rugs make getting around perilous, especially if you have stiff, arthritic joints. Karen Kassik discovered this in 2002, when she brought her then 66-year-old mother to live in her two-bedroom home in Winter Park, Fla. "I found out very quickly how inadequate this little house was," she recalls. Kassik, 45, used her background...

Read the Keeping Seniors Safe in Their Own Homes article > >

The condition often affects sleep quality, but it can be just as troubling during the day. "This translates to someone who can't go an hour or two without urinating, someone who constantly searches for bathrooms and plans outings based on this," says Kenneth Goldberg, MD, a Dallas urologist. "It's a problem that has serious impacts on lifestyle and quality of life. Some people are miserable. Most of the time, we really don't know why it's occurring."

Bleak as this may sound, there's hope -- in the form of treatments and common-sense measures that can make life nearly normal again, or at least better.

Although researchers have not been able to nail down a single cause, some things are known. The symptoms of overactive bladder can be the sign of an underlying problem such as a urinary-tract infection. When the infection is treated, symptoms will clear. But in many other cases, overactive bladder occurs when no other illnesses can explain it.

For instance, the condition is associated with aging, says Wendy Leng, MD, a urologist at the University of California at San Francisco Medical Center. "Just as with other parts of the body, with wear and tear, the bladder just doesn't perform its function as well as it used to."

Today on WebMD

blueberries
Eating for a longer, healthier life.
woman biking
How to stay vital in your 50s and beyond.
 
womans finger tied with string
Learn how we remember, and why we forget.
man reviewing building plans
Do you know how to stay healthy as you age?
 
fast healthy snack ideas
Article
how healthy is your mouth
Tool
 
dog on couch
Tool
doctor holding syringe
Slideshow
 
champagne toast
Slideshow
Two women wearing white leotards back to back
Quiz
 
Man feeding woman
Slideshow
two senior women laughing
Article