Urge Incontinence/Overactive Bladder

The correct functioning of the bladder depends upon sensors in the bladder wall communicating with the brain, so that the brain can tell the various different muscles of the bladder to contract or expand to expel urine. If this is interrupted in some way, then the brain may be unaware that the bladder is full and requires emptying, and this can result in sudden and unexpected urination. This condition is known as urge incontinence or an overactive bladder.

People suffering from an overactive bladder are often subject to the sudden and uncontrollable urge to pass water, usually in a large quantity. This can occur at any time or place, and is sometimes triggered by certain events, such as hearing the sound of running water, when reaching orgasm, or simply when shifting position.

An overactive bladder can sometimes be caused when the nerves connecting the brain to the bladder have been damaged, as with those who have multiple sclerosis or who have sustained spinal cord injuries. This can result in the detrusor muscle in the bladder contracting uncontrollably and forcing out urine, and is known as detrusor hyper-reflexia.

People suffering from an overactive bladder are advised to eat a healthy diet and drink plenty of fluids. Cutting down on caffeine, alcohol and tomato-based foods may help to reduce the symptoms of urge incontinence. Other methods of treatment include bladder training, medication – and in some cases of detrusor hyper-reflexia, surgery.