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Overactive or hyperactive bladder (formerly: irritable bladder) is a functional disorder of bladder function without organ pathological findings.

It is a symptom complex that significantly affects the quality of life of patients.

The symptoms are composed of urinary retention symptoms, imperative urge to urinate, i.e. urge to urinate suddenly without warning and with the risk of urine leakage, pollakiuria (8 or more urinations within 24 hours), nocturia (urinating once or several times during night sleep) and urge incontinence (involuntary urine leakage associated with imperative urge to urinate).1,2 Urinary incontinence can have a variety of causes, including disorders of the urinary bladder, urethra, bladder sphincter, pelvic floor muscles, nerves supplying these organs, or an enlarged prostate gland in men.3 An overactive bladder can have a significant impact on sexual function, sleep, and mental health.1

Although the incidence of overactive bladder is similar in women and men, there are gender differences in individual symptoms and impact on quality of life. In men, overactive bladder often occurs in association with benign prostate enlargement.1 In Austria, urinary incontinence affects approximately 850,000 women and men (i.e., about one in ten of the population). In women, this condition occurs much more frequently.4 From the age of 60, almost one in five people has symptoms of an overactive bladder.2 If behavioural measures such as micturition or toilet training do not lead to sufficient therapeutic success, various agents (e.g., so-called antimuscarinics or beta-receptor agonists) are available for symptomatic treatment prior to the use of invasive therapy.2


1 Eapen RS & Radomski SB. Research and Reports in Urology 2016, 8: 71-76.

2 Madersbacher S & Wolfesberger J. The overactive urinary bladder. J Urol Urogynaecol 2017, 24: 135-141.

3 Austrian Society of Urology and Andrology. Patient information urinary incontinence. (accessed: August 27, 2019).

4 Professional Association of Austrian Urologists. For women. Urinary incontinence. (accessed: August 27, 2019).