Causes Of and Risk Factors For OAB


If you've ever experienced that "gotta go" feeling, or extreme urge to urinate, you may have overactive bladder. This overwhelming urge is one of the main signs that you may be living with overactive bladder (OAB). Other symptoms of OAB include:

  • Urine leakage or incontinence – the urge to urinate may cause your bladder to leak a little or a lot

  • Increased frequency of urination – you may need to go to the bathroom many times throughout the day

  • Going to the bathroom more than eight times per day is usually what your doctor means by frequent

  • Waking up at night to urinate

OAB is a group of urinary symptoms such as an uncontrollable urge to urinate or urine leakage caused by this frequent urge.

In OAB, urine leaks when your bladder inappropriately contracts or squeezes even when your bladder is not full. This causes the sudden urge to urinate or that “gotta go” feeling, and it can happen frequently throughout the day and even at night time during sleep.

Pictured below is what a normal bladder looks like (left) and what an overactive bladder with urine leakage looks like (right). 

overactive bladder


Overactive bladder typically occurs when nerve signals between your bladder and your brain tell your bladder to empty even when it is not full and the bladder and pelvic floor muscles are not in coordination. OAB can also o ccur when the muscles in your bladder are too active or contract when they are not meant to, creating that sudden and strong urge to urinate. This is called “urgency.”

Common Causes and Triggers OAB symptoms

  1. Increasing age
  2. Back issues/surgery
  3. Obesity and being overweight
  4. Neurological conditions that affect the brain and spine including diabetes, multiple sclerosis,  Parkinson’s disease, stroke, cerebral palsy and spinal cord injury
  5. Bladder tumors, stones and infections
  6. Certain medications such as diuretics, sedatives and antidepressants
  7. Certain foods such as caffeine, alcohol and spicy foods worsen symptoms

Learn more about the diagnosis and treatment of OAB. 

FAQs about OAB

Download a copy of Chesapeake Urology's OAB patient brochure here.

Watch the OAB Patient Video