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Overactive Bladder: What Is It, Exactly?

Here's what you need to know about urinary incontinence.

What is overactive bladder? Overactive bladder is the loss of bladder control due to a sudden urge to urinate, also known as urinary incontinence. It can be embarrassing and inconvenient. Overactive bladder is often connected with age, gender and physical changes that occur with surgery or some health conditions.

In this video, Dr. Holly Atkinson explains how the bladder works and what having an overactive bladder means for you. She explains that for people with OAB, the bladder muscle contracts even when the bladder isn't full. This is what causes that sudden urge to urinate.

In general, people with overactive bladder typically use the bathroom within two hours of their last void. Sometimes, however, these symptoms can be caused by drug side effects, nerve damage, stroke, or neurological diseases such as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.


Holly Atkinson, MD

This video features Holly Atkinson, MD. Dr. Atkinson specializes in internal medicine and is an award-winning medical journalist.

Duration: 2:47. Last Updated On: Nov. 8, 2017, 6:14 p.m.
Reviewed by: Suzanne Friedman, MD, Preeti Parikh, MD, . Review date: July 8, 2014
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