Symptoms and Signs of Overactive Bladder

Medical Author: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2019

Doctor's Notes on Overactive Bladder

Overactive bladder (OAB) is a bladder disorder that results in an abnormal urge to urinate, urinary frequency, and nighttime urination (nocturia). In some cases, involuntary loss of bladder control (urinary incontinence) may occur. Causes of overactive bladder include abnormal contractions of the muscles of the urinary bladder resulting in a sudden and uncontrollable urge to urinate, urinary tract infection, diabetes, medications such as diuretics (water pills), prostate disease, bladder tumors, or interstitial cystitis.

Symptoms of overactive bladder include urinary urgency, which is a sudden urge to urinate that may be difficult to control. Incontinence is not a defining symptom of overactive bladder, but it can happen as a result of urgency. Other symptoms of overactive bladder include urinary frequency (urinating more than eight times in 24 hours without any other reason, such as taking diuretics) and nighttime urination (waking up at least twice in the middle of the night to void).


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.