By Board Certified Urologist Yana Barbalat
Overactive bladder (OAB) is essentially a symptom complex characterized by urgency, frequency, and occasionally urge incontinence. Urgency is really a hallmark feature in patients with OAB. Overactive bladder is most often “idiopathic”- meaning, without a known cause. However, it can also be caused by neurologic disease, certain bladder irritants such as coffee and soda intake, and UTIs! People who have UTIs often experience symptoms of OAB, during the time of their infection. Occasionally, even after the UTI is already treated, patients will continue to have urgency for a while until the bladder lining is fully healed. However, most patients who get UTIs void normally when they are not infected and do not have OAB unless they have an infection.
Many people believe that patients with chronic UTIs, will develop chronic OAB. Thankfully, that’s not really the case and as soon as the UTI is treated and the bladder has healed, the OAB symptoms do disappear. In my practice, where I see many patients with both UTIs and chronic overactive bladder, most people who have OAB, do not necessarily get recurrent urinary tract infections, and vice versa. However, because age puts you at increased risk for both UTIs and OAB, many elderly patients do have both conditions.