Feeling The Need To Pee: Understanding The Overactive Bladder

2009-09-03 |

All of us know the feeling of a full bladder and the urgency to find nearby facilities at which to relieve ourselves. Typically, this discomfort is self-induced after either drinking the extra large pop in the movie theater or driving too long before seeking out a restroom. For people who suffer with overactive bladders, however, this very uncomfortable state occurs far more frequently. This can result in a significant reduction in quality of life.

In particular, two similar conditions called overactive bladder and interstitial cystitis (IC) both cause sufferers to face frequent strong urges to urinate. While both chronic conditions are debilitating, interstitial cystitis also causes pain in any of the pelvic area, the lower back, the genital area and the lower stomach area. This pain is also accompanied by the urge to urinate as many as 60 times per day, so beyond daily activities, the ability to sleep is also seriously affected.

How Many People Suffer From An Overactive Bladder?

In the US, between 1.3 and 9.5 million people suffer from IC, depending upon sources. In the UK, the number is roughly 400,000. Of those who are diagnosed with the condition, the vast majority, 90%, are women. Much of the evidence suggests the condition is genetic in nature.

What Is Known About Interstitial Cystitis?

The condition has, until very recently, been poorly understood and frequently misdiagnosed. In some cases, doctors have diagnosed the symptoms as an infection of the urinary system (UTI), a sexually transmitted disease (STD) or even bladder cancer. Without a definitive test for the condition, doctors had to come to a diagnosis based on ruling out other possible causes. As a result many patients have suffered extended periods of discomfort without knowing about their condition.

Now at least, preliminary research results published in June by a scientist at Ohio State University may offer the hope of a blood test for direct diagnosis of the condition. The blood test involves molecular analysis of the blood and has been used in both cats and humans to accurately identify the presence of the disease. The benefit of such a test, when it is available to the public, will be that a patient can be diagnosed more quickly.

Unfortunately at this time, the treatments for the condition only address the symptoms and not the underlying disease. Several medications are prescribed that have varying levels of success in controlling symptoms, but these must be taken for life to avoid return of symptoms. However, researchers are trying to identify any potentially genetic causes for the condition to better understand its causes and to allow for development of potential treatments.

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Category: Disease Information, Symptom Information

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