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Certain risk factors associated with overactive bladder (OAB)—such as age and gender—are beyond your control. However others—such as obesity—can be minimized with healthy lifestyle decisions.
Although OAB can occur at any age, the risk of OAB increases as you get older, and it is most common in the elderly. According to the National Association for Continence, one in five adults over the age of 40 is affected by OAB or chronic symptoms of urgency or frequency.
OAB is more likely to affect women than men. Additionally, menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause can lead to changes in estrogen levels and weakened pelvic-floor muscles that increase the risk of urge incontinence as a symptom of OAB.
In men, an enlarged prostate (also related to aging) and damage caused by prostate cancer surgery may lead to OAB symptoms.
Excess weight can increase pressure on the bladder. Obesity could also decrease blood flow and nerve activity in the bladder, causing control problems.
Pregnant women often experience OAB symptoms because of excess pressure on the bladder. Additionally, women may also experience incontinence problems after childbirth due to weakened pelvic-floor muscles.
Diabetes causes nerve damage (diabetic neuropathy), which can affect the nerves that control bladder function and cause urgency and frequency problems.
The spinal cord functions as a pathway from the brain to the sacral spinal cord. Damage to the spinal cord can disrupt signals sent to the bladder, causing bladder muscles to involuntary contract.
Written by: the Healthline Editorial Team
Published on: Aug 25, 2010
Medically reviewed : Andrea Baird, MD
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