Overactive bladder (OAB) is a syndrome of lower urinary tract symptoms, characterised by urgency with or without urge incontinence, usually with increased frequency and nocturia (Internatinal Continence Society). OAB affects women, men and children, with a reported prevalence of 15%.

The symptoms are usually chronic and interfere significantly with a person’s daily activities. OAB sufferers are often too embarrassed to seek help, or think that it is a ‘normal’ part of growing up or ageing. They will make lifestyle adjustments and put up with the symptoms for many months or years.

As a general practitioner, it is important to screen for OAB as most patients will not volunteer the information and you can greatly improve a patient’s quality of life by diagnosing the condition and recommending simple conservative measures.


Screening questions:

Initial assessment:


Further assessment as indicated:


Lifestyle interventions


Urgent referrals should be made to a UROLOGIST in patients with:

Referrals to the following specialities should be considered when patients have:

Surgical management after a failed trial of conservative therapy include:


http://www.nice.org.uk/nicemedia/live/10996/30282/30282.pdf - National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) Clinical Guideline 40. Urinary incontinence: The management of urinary incontinence in women. Oct 2006.

http://www.gponline.com/Clinical/article/978672/Clinical-Review-Overactive-bladder-syndrome/ - GPonline.com is the official website for GP magazine, dedicated to supporting UK GPs in all aspects of their working lives.

Continence Foundation of Australia

National Continence Helpline (free call) 1800 33 00 66

Find a physiotherapist or continence advisor

Free resources for download or order with free delivery - continence.org.au is the official Web site of the Continence Foundation of Australia, the peak body for continence promotion, management and advocacy.

Australian Government Web Site for Bladder and Bowel Problems

Continence Aids Payment Scheme (CAPS) Application form - bladderbowel.gov.au is the official Web site of the Department of Health and Ageing, Australian Government, Commonwealth of Australia.

Pelvic Floor Exercises Fact Sheet in English, Greek, Italian, Turkish, Vietnamese - thewomens.org.au is the official Web site of the Royal Women’s Hospital, Victoria, Australia.