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Neurogenic Bladder vs Overactive Bladder: Types, Symptoms and Causes | Friends Diaper

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Nobel Hygiene

There are so many bladder issues that one can suffer from. So, in this maze of information on bladder issues you stumble upon the term “neurogenic bladder” on the internet and are now wondering if this is it. If this is what has caused you to lose sleep and bladder control. 

Here’s your neurogenic bladder definition: If your body faces trouble storing or emptying the urine that it has produced, you might have a case of neurogenic bladder. This is caused because of abnormalities related to your bladder muscles or nerves. 

A neurogenic bladder is a very common symptom of diseases such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, AIDS, diabetes, etc.

Types of Neurogenic Bladders

Your brain sends a signal to your muscles to squeeze and let the urine out of the bladder. It then goes through a pipe-like structure called the urethra which relaxes to allow exit of the urine flow.

Even a small malfunction can wreck this whole system and lead to chaos.

Overactive bladder

An overactive bladder is excessively active in its functions. 

A neurogenic overactive bladder squeezes to force urine out even before the bladder is full. People with an overactive bladder often suffer from urine leakage. This is because their bladder muscles squeeze without prior warning and do so very forcefully leading to leakage.

Underactive bladder

An underactive bladder does quite the opposite. It is extremely slow and inefficient in its functioning, causing the bladder to either not fully empty or empty over a really long period of time. 

An underactive bladder might also be caused because the urethra muscles don’t function as they should and stay tight even after receiving signals from the brain to loosen up.

  • Or you might have a case of an underactive bladder because of obstruction in the urinary tract because of medical conditions, such as an enlarged prostate, kidney stones, blood clots, enlarged uterus in pregnancy, etc.

It could be difficult figuring out what kind of bladder malfunction is giving you trouble. So, here’s a run-down of everything that you need to know.

Signs And Symptoms of Neurogenic Bladder to Watch Out For

Neurogenic bladder classification too depends on your signs and symptoms. 

Symptoms of an overactive bladder include:

  • waking up two or more times during the night to urinate and leaking small amounts of urine.

  • feeling the need to urinate even if you’ve just used the bathroom.

  • taking many trips (8 times or more) to the toilet each day.

  • Leaking small amounts of urine when the urge hits and you’re trying to reach the bathroom

Symptoms of an underactive bladder include:

People with underactive bladder may experience difficulty passing urine or even inability to pass urine. Others may experience

  • Experiencing a weak stream of urine

  • Difficulty in passing urine

  • Being unable to fully empty the bladder

  • Starting and stopping multiple times while peeing mid-stream

  • Finding blood in your urine

  • Pain in your abdomen and swelling

In worst cases, an underactive bladder can cause kidney damage if left untreated.

What causes neurogenic bladder?

It is important to remember that overactive and underactive bladders are not illnesses in themselves, but rather symptoms of underlying causes. You might be suffering from a neurogenic bladder because of nerve, brain, or spinal cord damage or in some cases, ageing.

Causes of overactive bladder

Common causes of an underactive bladder include:

  • Weakened muscles due to ageing

  • Obstruction in the urinary tract

  • Diabetes

  • Sexually transmitted diseases such as herpes zoster, AIDS, and syphilis

  • Disorders affecting nerve function

  • Injury to your spinal cord or the nervous system

Causes of underactive bladder

The risk factors for a neurogenic bladder include:

  • Cancer and tumours especially of your urinary tract 

  • Changing hormones especially in women 

  • Injury to the brain and/or the spinal cord

  • Side effects of certain medications 

  • Neurological disorders affecting the communication between your brain and bladder nerves and muscles

  • A weakened pelvic floor

How to treat a neurogenic bladder?

Your treatment for a neurogenic bladder depends on what’s causing it and which kind of neurogenic bladder you’re suffering from.

One thing is for certain, no matter what kind of bladder issues you’re struggling with, you can make things better by making lifestyle changes. 

To reduce symptoms significantly, you should also seek treatment from a doctor along with these lifestyle changes.

  • Limit bladder irritants that act as diuretics such as coffee, tea, alcoholic drinks, anything to do with citrusy fruits, spicy foods, etc.  

  • Note down the number of trips you’re taking to the bathroom in a bladder diary or journal.

  • Practice double voiding, or emptying your bladder twice in a single trip to the bathroom.

  • Delay bathroom visits to train your bladder to hold urine for longer amounts of time.

  • Use a bathroom schedule and try to stick to it.

  • Practice different kinds of exercises to relax your bladder muscle, such as quick flicks biofeedback, Kegel exercises, etc.

When to consult a doctor

If you notice a sudden change in your bathroom habits, have issues holding urine, feel an ever-present urge to urinate, visit bathroom more than eight times in a day, or have trouble urinating you might want to set up an appointment with your doctor to get things checked out. Your doctor might also be able to help you have a neurogenic bladder diagnosis better.