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5 Risk Factors for an Overactive Bladder

Mar 02, 2024
5 Risk Factors for an Overactive Bladder
Are you at risk for overactive bladder? It’s an embarrassing condition, and, unfortunately, an all-too-common one. Read on and find out if you’re at risk and how we can help you find relief.

Overactive bladder is a condition that causes embarrassing urine leaks and an increased need to urinate, both in the day and during the night. Overactive bladder can quickly zap your quality of life and make it hard to work or plan social outings with confidence. 

An estimated 33 million adults have overactive bladders, although the actual frequency may be much higher if you factor in people who are too embarrassed to ask for help. 

Our board-certified urologists at Bellingham Urology Group in Bellingham and Mount Vernon, Washington, don’t want you to feel embarrassed. Help is available! Our team excels at diagnosing and managing the condition.

Continue reading to learn more about the five risk factors for overactive bladder and how we can help you find relief.

1. Age and gender

People over 40, especially women, are more susceptible to developing an overactive bladder. Menopause-related hormonal changes can contribute to bladder muscle weakening. Research shows that both the prevalence and severity of overactive bladder symptoms increase with each passing decade.

2. Neurological conditions

Certain neurological disorders, such as multiple sclerosis or Parkinson's disease, can interfere with the nerve signals that pass between your brain and your bladder. Multiple sclerosis, for example, can increase your frequency, urge, and frequency of waking up at night to urinate (nocturia). 

If you have a pre-existing neurological condition, it doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to develop an overactive bladder, but it does mean that you’re at an elevated risk for one.

3. Lifestyle factors

Certain lifestyle choices, such as excessive caffeine and alcohol consumption, can irritate your bladder and contribute to overactive bladder symptoms. 

Smoking is another risk factor, as it has been linked to an increased risk of bladder dysfunction in both smokers and ex-smokers.

To help reduce your risk of overactive bladder, stop smoking, drink plenty of water, exercise regularly, lose weight (if needed), and follow a nutrient-dense diet. 

4. Side effects of medication

Some medications can contribute to an overactive bladder. These include diuretics, blood pressure medication, some antidepressants, and sleeping pills.

Even if you suspect that your medication is causing an overactive bladder, it’s important not to change your medication routine unless directed to do so by your prescribing provider. If you're concerned, don’t hesitate to share those concerns with our team.

5. Underlying medical conditions 

Underlying medical conditions can also increase your risk of developing an overactive bladder. Diabetes and high blood pressure are two examples. Diabetes, for instance, may impact nerve function and increased urothelial inflammation, which then triggers symptoms of urgency and frequency.

In the case of obesity, researchers found that women in their 30s with over 32% body fat experienced overactive bladder at a rate of 95% more than women with less body fat. In another study, researchers found that obesity was more likely to cause nocturia, regardless of gender.

How we can help with overactive bladder

There’s no way around it: Overactive bladder is a big nuisance. The good news is that you don’t have to try to manage it on your own. If you have these risk factors and spot the signs of overactive bladder, our team can help. 

Here at Bellingham Urology Group, our team offers a variety of treatments, including:

  • Guidance on lifestyle changes most relevant to you
  • Medications, such as as oxybutynin or tolterodine 
  • Botox® injections
  • InterStim® sacral nerve stimulation

To learn more about your potential treatment options for overactive bladder,  call the location of your choice. You can also use our online scheduling tool to book your next appointment in one of our offices.