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Hope for Overactive Bladder Problems

A range of OAB treatments, from pills to Botox, can help you reclaim your life.

Overactive Bladder: The Facts continued...

About two-thirds of those with OAB have "dry" OAB, in which they feel bladder contractions and have a sudden urge to urinate but do get to the bathroom on time. Wet OAB is embarrassingly self-explanatory.

In many instances, doctors can't pinpoint the causes of overactive bladder, although neurological problems (such as strokes) and unhealthy lifestyle habits (such as excess caffeine intake) can contribute. The diagnosis is one of exclusion, after conditions such as severe urinary tract infections or bladder cancer have been ruled out.

OAB: The Effects on Quality of Life

Overactive bladder can play havoc with how you feel about yourself, not to mention your daily work schedule and social life.

In a study published in 2007 in the British Journal of Health Psychology, researchers confirmed that an OAB diagnosis had consequences on the patient's quality of life, self-esteem, and relationships.

Those with the condition worry about accidents, the researchers say, and can feel depressed and hopeless. The state of mind is worse for those with "wet" overactive bladder than "dry."

Nearly every patient with the disorder has an embarrassing or humiliating story, says Elizabeth W. Bozeman, MD, president of the Society of Women in Urology and a urologist in Spartanburg, S.C.

Among the tales, Bozeman says, is a woman who was dancing at her wedding and suddenly there was a puddle on the floor.

Travel can be a particular challenge, says Michael Chancellor, MD, professor of urology and obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Pittsburgh. "I've had patients ask for a catheter to be put in for a trip overseas," he tells WebMD. Working women tell him they have to leave twice during an hour and a half meeting to go to the bathroom.

Other patients say they ask for an aisle seat at a play so they can get up and to the bathroom quickly. Others tell him they fear they'll urinate during sex.

"When you are at the mercy of your bladder, you are like a toddler," says Chancellor. "You're thinking about it all the time, your little, hyperactive bladder."

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