Overactive bladder (OAB) affects an estimated 350,000 people in Ireland, yet at least one-third of adults do not know what it is, a new study has found.
According to the findings, 36% of people have no idea what OAB is, while 29% think the condition primarily affects women, when in fact, just over half of those affected in Ireland are men.
Meanwhile, 39% think that OAB specifically affects elderly people, however many develop it when they are in their 40s and it can actually affect people of all ages.
OAB is a medical problem that affects the way your bladder works. It is an involuntary and sudden contraction or squeezing of the muscle in the wall of the bladder, even when the volume of urine in your bladder may be low.
In other words, your bladder feels fuller than it actually is, leading to an urgent need to urinate.
The most common symptom of OAB is urinary urgency, which is a sudden desire to pass urine. This can be difficult to hold in and so may result in accidental leakages. However, even if your bladder feels really full, you may only pass a little urine or you may feel afterwards as if the bladder has not emptied completely.
Other symptoms include:
-Having to urinate more than eight times in a 24-hour period
-Waking up two or more time a night to go to the toilet.
The study was carried out as part of the 2019 #InControl campaign, launched by Astellas, which aims to improve the public's understanding of OAB and to encourage those affected to visit their GP.
Its findings revealed that the condition can have a major impact on people's quality of life. For example, 62% of those affected feel agitated and disrupted by their symptoms every day. Yet the average sufferer puts up with the condition for a full year before attending their doctor.
Meanwhile, one-fifth of those affected never visit their doctor because they think nothing can be done to help.
"OAB is a condition affecting approximately 350,000 in Ireland, but a huge number of people have never even heard of it, and for those who have, a lot of misunderstanding exists around age and gender prevalence, symptoms and treatment," commented Prof Barry O'Reilly, a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at Cork University Hospital.
He noted that while the symptoms of OAB can be very disruptive to daily life, many of those experiencing urinary incontinence find it too embarrassing to talk about, including with their own GP.
However, he insisted that "the discomfort and disruption of OAB should not be tolerated in silence".
"There are lifestyle changes and treatment that can help alleviate symptoms and significantly improve quality of life. We need to start talking about OAB, put taboo concerns aside, and help more people to recognise the symptoms and seek help.
"For anyone with incontinence concerns or queries, I would strongly recommend that they visit their local GP or oab.ie for more information," Prof O'Reilly said.
For more information on OAB, click here.
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