Did you know many as 30 percent of men and 40 percent of women in America suffer from overactive bladder (OAB)? According to researchers at UCLA, many patients with OAB fail to seek treatment because they are unaware of the therapies available or they are embarrassed and fail to bring the condition to the attention of their doctor.

In 2012, the American Urological Association Foundation launched a nationwide campaign to draw attention to this condition and help reduce some of the stigma associated with it. OAB is a group of urinary symptoms that include a strong, often uncontrollable urge to urinate at unexpected times. In some patients, this can result in incontinence and/or frequent urination during the day and night. Not all OAB patients suffer from incontinence.

Symptoms can occur if the muscles in the patient’s bladder contract involuntarily when the bladder isn’t full of urine. Sometimes, the nerve signals between the brain and bladder go awry and send the message to empty the bladder at unexpected times.

OAB can impact a person’s quality of life, though the condition is not life threatening. Because some perceive OAB as embarrassing, many people do not share their symptoms or seek treatment for the condition.

This condition is very treatable but requires assistance from both the patient and the doctor. Often times, patients are asked to keep a log during the day, recording their fluid intake, the number of times they urinate, and the number of instances of incontinence nd when they occur (after coughing, sneezing, laughing, etc.).

Several foods can also worsen or cause OAB symptoms, including; tea, coffee, alcohol, caffeinated sodas, citrus juices and fruit, tomatoes and tomato-based products, spicy foods and artificial sweeteners. It’s important to continue to drink water. Many OAB patients reduce their fluid intake, which creates highly concentrated urine, irritating the bladder and causing more frequent urination.

There are several exercises and methods available to retrain your bladder to function with more regularity. Your doctor can also prescribe anticholinergic medications to help control muscle spasms in the bladder.

If you think you might be suffering from OAB, don’t hesitate to talk to your primary care physician and find a treatment program that’s right for you.