Emotional Toll From Overactive Bladder

But Survey Shows Less Than Half of Patients Will Consider Seeing a Doctor

Medically Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD on January 20, 2006
From the WebMD Archives

Jan. 20, 2006 -- Having an overactive bladder makes it more difficult to perform daily activities, yet many people don't consider the problem a valid medical condition, according to a new study.

Researchers found three-fourths of people with overactive bladders said the condition interfered with daily activities. But less than half of them would consider seeing a doctor about the problem or consider an overactive bladder a valid medical condition.

The study also showed that an overactive bladder can take a toll on people's emotional health, with about one-third with the condition noting that it made them feel depressed or stressed.

Overactive bladder (OAB) affects about one in six adults over age 40, causing symptoms such as an urgent need to empty the bladder, more frequent urination during the day and night, and incontinence.

"It's clear that OAB, whether it's with or without incontinence, has a significant effect on people's lives, including negative effects on their emotional well-being and their ability to feel at ease at work or in social situations," researcher Debra E. Irwin, PhD, from the School of Public Health at the University of North Carolina, says in a news release.

Overactive Bladder Affects Daily Life

In the study, researchers surveyed 300 Europeans with overactive bladder about their condition and its effects on daily life.

The results, published in a recent issue of BJU International, show that overactive bladder has a significant impact on people's professional as well as personal lives.

For example:

  • 38% of men and 22% of women said they were concerned about interrupting meetings.
  • 28% felt uncomfortable doing things away from home.
  • 22% said overactive bladder made them feel uncomfortable with people they didn't know and 20% felt uncomfortable with people they did know.

Despite these problems, about three-fourths of men and women with the condition aid they felt overactive bladder was just something they had to live with; 76% of men and 67% of women saw it as part of the normal aging process.

"Thirty-two per cent of the people interviewed said that their condition made them depressed and 28% reported feeling stressed," says Irwin. "Yet 48% of women and 40% of men felt that it was not a valid medical condition."

"Our findings indicate that there is considerable scope for improving how doctors diagnose and treat this condition and for encouraging people with OAB to seek medical care," says Irwin.

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SOURCES: Irwin, D. BJU International, 2005; vol 97: p 96-100. News release, BJU International.
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