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Overactive Bladder: Introduction and Symptoms

Overactive bladder or over active bladder syndrome is a type of urinary bladder related health conditions in which there is problem with urination. This condition is not life threatening however the presenting symptoms are quite bothersome and embarrassing.Other than the physical symptoms people suffering from overactive bladder may also feel embarrassed leading to social isolation, limitation of social activities even may suffer from depression.As this is not a life threatening situation and in many cases treatment will cause more discomfort than the symptoms, treatment when offered mainly done to improve the quality of life.

Physiology of micturition
Under normal physiological circumstances the bladder is filled and emptied under the influence of several factors; these are kidney functions, bladder wall and neck muscle activities and adequacy of functions of the nerves supplying the bladder. Normally urine is produced in the kidneys which enter the bladder via the two tube like structures arising from the kidneys (the ureters) and ending on the bladder. The collected urine in the bladder is drained through the urethra to the exterior. In females the urethral opening is located just above the vaginal opening whereas in males the urethra opens at the tip of the penis.

When the bladder is full, then the nerves supplying the bladder muscles sends signal to the brain urging the brain to signal via the nerves to facilitate bladder emptying (urination). As a result the pelvic floor muscles and muscles of the urethra are relaxed whereas the bladder neck muscles contract facilitating emptying of bladder (urination).In case of overactive bladder the bladder wall muscles start to contract without any signal from the brain in an uncoordinated way. There several common conditions which may lead to this type of bladder muscle contraction and ultimately symptoms of overactive bladder. These are
Symptoms
There are four cardinal symptoms of overactive bladder; these are
1) Urgency: sudden uncontrollable urge to evacuate bladder (urinate).
2) Increased frequency of urination: the frequency of urination increases; in most of the cases the patient needs to urinate about 8 to 12 times per day (urination up to 7 times in a day is considered to be within normal limits).
3) Nocturia: this is characterized by increased urge to urinate about 2 to 3 times in every night.
4) Urge incontinence: this is characterized by involuntary urination preceded by sudden urge to urinate (urgency).
Usually people suffering from overactive bladder can timely reach the bathroom once they feel the urge the increased frequency of urination especially in the night (nocturia) usually is responsible for interruption of normal life.Urinary incontinence due to any cause including overactive bladder is notorious to cause major change in one’s life.

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