RAY RACKLEY, MD: "I can't sit through an interview. I can't listen to someone talking very long at a board meeting. I can't complete my shopping activities without trying to find a bathroom."
ANNOUNCER: These are just a few of the ways life is made more difficult for people with overactive bladder, or OAB. Experts say 30 percent of men and women experience the condition.
DIANE NEWMAN: Persons with overactive bladder experience several different symptoms. The first one is urgency, urinary urgency. That is when you have an intense, sudden desire to have to go to the bathroom immediately.
The second symptom of overactive bladder is urinary frequency. That means when you go to the bathroom too often. The usual number of times it's normal is less than eight times, day and night.
Many times, patients will have both urgency and frequency and they'll go to the bathroom even more frequently, because they're afraid that they may have a wetting accident or they may have incontinence. That's the third symptom that can occur, urinary urge incontinence.
ANNOUNCER: When a person has OAB, his or her bladder muscle, called the detrusor, becomes overactive.
RAY RACKLEY, MD: The bladder muscle is what contracts to produce the act of urination. And people with the overactive bladder, many times, they may have spasms or over activity or hyperactivity of that muscle.
ANNOUNCER: But other problems, too, may cause the symptoms.
RAY RACKLEY, MD: For instance, if a patient presents with multiple sclerosis or other neurological conditions such as Parkinson's or a stroke, there's actually damage to the nerve that enervate the bladder.
There may be metabolic conditions such as diabetes. We know that diabetes affects the nerve endings, so you can see how a diabetic condition could affect the overactive bladder.
ANNOUNCER: Heart conditions can also lead to an increase in urine production. And so, too, can certain medications used to treat heart conditions. Bladder problems can also be caused by accidents.
RAY RACKLEY, MD: There can be orthopedic injuries, nerve compressions or spinal conditions or actually congenital situations which affect the nerve-muscle interaction of the bladder.
ANNOUNCER: So the diagnosis of overactive bladder takes some gentle detective work.
DIANE NEWMAN: We will question persons about their symptoms, how often do they occur, when do they occur, daytime or nighttime. We also do a physical examination. We will look at the pelvis, to see if there's any abnormalities. We will also do a rectal check. This is important in men. We want to see the size of the prostate gland. Some men will have an enlarged prostate gland and that can lead to overactive bladder symptoms.
Another test that we will do is a urine analysis. This is a check to see if there's the presence of bacteria, which may indicate infection, or blood, which may indicate other problems.
ANNOUNCER: When a doctor settles on a diagnosis of OAB, patients are likely to be relieved to discover there is a wide range of effective treatments.
RAY RACKLEY, MD: Treatment options available to people with the overactive bladder condition include behavioral modification, pharmacological intervention in the form of drug therapy and actually minimally invasive and extensive surgical options.
DIANE NEWMAN: One of the most important things to know about this condition is that there is treatment available. Persons do not need to suffer in silence. What they need to understand is, as soon as they see that they're having problems with urgency, frequency or incontinence, seek help, because there's treatment available.