Overactive Bladder Syndrome

Do you urgently need to pee and sometimes don’t make it to the bathroom? Is it impossible to hold on? Does this happen to you often?

If you have Overactive Bladder (OAB), you will likely have had times when you couldn’t make it to the bathroom in time, and you had to deal with a leak. This happens when your bladder contracts without warning and gives you little or no time to reach the toilet. And this can happen multiple times not just throughout the day but the night too.  This kind of urinary leaking, or incontinence, is different to the type when you sneeze or cough or do physical activities such as jumping. This is known as Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI).

Symptoms may include:

Urgent need to pee
Frequent need to pee
Continence problems (leaking)

Up to 30% of men and 40% of women live with OAB in America alone, and many don’t ask for help because they feel embarrassed, or don’t know how to talk to a healthcare provider about these symptoms. Sometimes they just think there’s nothing can be done about it.  Urinating anything between four and ten times a day can be considered normal, depending on how much fluid you drink. People with OAB can be going twice as often as that, or even more frequently. This can put a strain on relationships because you may not want to leave home for fear of being caught short. This can make you feel lonely or isolated. Also, if you leak urine a lot or wear incontinence pads often, skin conditions or infections can develop.

Normal sleep is for six to eight hours a night, but when you’ve got OAB that can feel like an impossible dream. Getting up several times in the night with an urgent need to reach the bathroom is called nocturia, and it can be the worst symptom of all because of the impact of sleep loss and the effect on your sex life.

Usually, the root cause of OAB is unknown. A healthy bladder will send signals to your brain that it’s getting full, but there’s plenty of time for you to wait until you can go to the bathroom at your own convenience. In OAB, the nerve signals between your bladder and your brain don’t work properly. The signal might tell your bladder to empty suddenly even if it’s not full. Or the muscles in your bladder might be oversensitive or overworking. When you’re  emptying your bladder often, it doesn’t get full enough to stretch the bladder muscles. This means that over time, the amount of urine your bladder can hold can be reduced, which compounds the problem for you.

Anxiety can make OAB worse and of course the fear of leaking can cause great stress and anxiety, not to mention the worry about making sure you know where the toilets are if you’re going out.  It’s important to know that OAB is not a normal part of growing older, it’s not caused by something you’ve done, it’s not just an issue with your prostate and it’s not just a part of being a woman.

Radiation Cystitis

Have you had radiotherapy in the pelvic area? Are you seeing blood in your urine? Do you have pain in your tummy or when you pee? Do you need to go to the bathroom very often?

Radiotherapy is an important way to treat cancers in the pelvic area. However, it can sometimes damage the bladder lining, causing Radiation Cystitis (RC). This can happen while you’re having radiotherapy, or it can flare up months or even years after your treatment finishes because the cell turnover is slow in the bladder so the tissue responds to the radiation over time.

Symptoms include:
Blood in the urine
Frequent need to pee
Haematuria (blood in the urine) and bladder wall haemorrhage (bleeding) are the
two key symptoms for RC.

You may experience symptoms constantly or as flare-ups at intervals. This comes with stress and anxiety, not least because you’re also dealing with the worry of having had cancer. There are significant unmet needs for people worldwide who are living with RC. There are no definitive treatments or cures, although there are some medical treatments which can alleviate the pain and other upsetting symptoms.