If you’ve been making more trips to the bathroom than you used to and hurrying to get there in time, you may have diagnosed yourself with overactive bladder. The symptoms certainly seem to fit—sudden, intense urges to urinate, frequent urination, urine leakage, and having to get up more than once during the night to go to the bathroom.

Not so fast: while it’s possible that you might have overactive bladder, those symptoms may have a wide variety of other causes, including serious health disorders that require correct diagnosis and proper treatment. Among these possible causes:

  • Diabetes
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Stroke
  • Heart disease
  • Constipation
  • Stones or tumors in the bladder
  • Enlarged or infected prostate

It can be especially difficult for people with diabetes to know whether they have overactive bladder, since frequent urination may also be caused by high blood sugars and diabetic neuropathy.

Overactive bladder symptoms may also result from such things as medicine side effects, surgery, or simply drinking too much.

Similar disorders

Other conditions that cause urine leakage are sometimes confused with overactive bladder. For example, if urine leaks during the stress of activities such as sneezing, laughing, or exercise, that is stress incontinence. What’s called overflow incontinence results when the bladder can’t empty itself and urine leaks from the full bladder. Conditions such as these may be treated differently from overactive bladder.

It’s your bladder, but when it acts up, there are so many possible causes that there is little chance you can figure things out all by yourself. Always seek the knowledge and experience of your doctor to correctly diagnose your condition. Without an accurate diagnosis, the problem that caused your symptoms might get worse.

If you do have overactive bladder, it’s reassuring to know that there are a variety of proven treatments that have helped others—chances are, these treatments can help you too.

To learn more about this topic:
Why Does Diabetes Cause Overactive Bladder?
Testing for Overactive Bladder
Doctor Discussion Guide: Overactive Bladder