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Overactive bladder is marked by a sudden, uncontrollable urge to urinate, which can lead to the involuntary loss of urine, called urge incontinence. Approximately 40% of women have an overactive bladder, although it is not a life-threatening condition, it can be embarrassing and many women may have it for years before serious complications arise. IT also is more common with advanced age.
Overactive bladder is characterized by a group of four symptoms: urgency, urinary frequency, nocturia, and urge incontinence.
Urgency is considered the hallmark symptom of an overactive bladder, although there are no clear criteria for what constitutes urgency. Presently, urgency is currently defined as a sudden, compelling desire to pass urine that is difficult to defer.
Urinary frequency is considered abnormal if unable to urinate more than eight times in a day. This frequency is usually monitored by keeping a voiding diary with recorded urination episodes. The number of episodes varies depending on sleep, fluid intake, medications, and up to seven is considered normal if consistent with the other factors.
Nocturia is a symptom based on complaints of interrupted sleep because of an urge to void and, like the urinary frequency component, is affected by similar lifestyle and medical factors.
Urge incontinence is a form of urinary incontinence characterized by the involuntary loss of urine occurring for no apparent reason while feeling urinary urgency. Urge incontinence can also be measured with pad tests, and these are often used for research purposes. Some people with urge incontinence also have stress incontinence and this can complicate clinical studies.
Botox works by relaxing the bladder muscle. It is FDA-approved to treat urinary incontinence due to overactive bladder related to nerve damage from conditions such as multiple sclerosis and spine injury.
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