A person suffering from urinary traction infection or neurological disorders like Parkinson’s disease may show symptoms of overactive bladder. To know more about its causes, read on…
Overactive bladder is a condition in which the bladder is unable to hold urine for a long duration. Patients with this bladder dysfunction problem have a tendency to urinate frequently. Generally, we wish to urinate when the bladder is full. However, this is not the case with overactive bladder patients. They get an uncontrollable urge to pee even if the bladder contains urine in meager amounts.
Overactive bladder has been attributed to improper functioning of the bladder muscle. Also referred to as detrusor muscle, it plays an important role in the elimination of urine from the bladder. When the urine fills the bladder substantially, the detrusor muscle contracts giving us a feeling to urinate. The contraction of the muscle squeezes the bladder, which allows to get rid of stored urine. In a situation, wherein the bladder is empty, the muscle is relaxed, hence we do not feel like urinating.
The contraction and relaxation of detrusor muscle at the right time is crucial for smooth running of the urination process. An overactive bladder suffers from involuntary contraction of detrusor muscle. In this type of bladder problem, the muscle contracts suddenly even when only a small amount of urine is present in the bladder. This abnormal behavior of the muscle is the reason why a person with overactive bladder syndrome feels like visiting the toilet frequently. The sudden contraction of muscles triggers an uncontrollable desire to pee immediately.
Now, the question is, why does the muscle contract when it is not required to do so? It is a known fact that the nerves that connect the brain to the muscles control their movement. Electrical messages from the brain are transmitted to the nerve in order to coordinate muscle movement. Muscle movement will not be executed unless the brain messages reach the desired muscle group. The brain and the bladder muscles are connected through a specified set of nerves. These nerves act as a medium of communication between the brain and bladder.
So, when the bladder is completely filled with urine, immediately the nerves send a message to the brain, conveying that the bladder is full. The brain then immediately transmits another message telling the bladder muscles to contract to initiate urination. Now, if there are any disturbances in the electrical activity of the brain or in case the nerves that transmit the signals are damaged (common in neurological disorders), the detrusor muscle may contract even when the amount of urine in the bladder is insignificant. As a result, the person experiences symptoms of overactive bladder.
So, one can say that a neurological disorder can contribute to the development of overactive bladder. Neurological disorders that might be responsible for causing this bladder problem are Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and diabetic neuropathy. Strokes, in which a part of the brain is deprived of sufficient blood, can also cause overactive bladder.
Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
The detrusor muscle becomes overactive during UTI. This is a bacterial infection that can affect any part of the urinary system but when it strikes the bladder, it may interfere with the functioning of the detrusor muscle, causing overactive bladder. Urgency to urinate, followed by abdominal discomfort and pain during urination are some of the most common complaints of UTI patients.
A bladder stone is nothing but a hardened mass of mineral that gets accumulated over a period of time. Poor urine flow, frequent and painful urination, etc., are some of the other symptoms associated with bladder stones.
Overactive bladder has also been attributed to inflamed prostate. The prostate gland found in men is located just below the bladder. It surrounds the urethra, the tube that originates from the bladder and transports urine out of the body. Inflammation of the prostate may squeeze the urethra and block the urine flow partially. This decrease in urine flow from the bladder can irritate the detrusor muscle, which can make it overactive.
Overactive bladder treatment will be decided depending upon diagnosis of the underlying cause. No matter what the cause is, one should make a conscious effort to control the urge to urinate. This can certainly help to reduce the number of trips to the toilet. Taking bladder muscle relaxants under medical supervision such as oxybutynin and tolterodine may work to reduce overactive bladder symptoms. Engaging oneself in pelvic exercises is an easy home remedy to make the bladder stronger and efficient in holding the urine for longer period of time.
Dietary changes can play a role in managing overactive bladder. Alcoholic and caffeinated beverages like coffee and tea increase urination rate and so can aggravate overactive bladder symptoms. Hence, patients are advised to exclude these beverages from the diet. One should also avoid taking medications like diuretics as they stimulate urine production.