Overactive bladder syndrome is overlooked and yet incredibly debilitating

Published on
March 17, 2023

Overactive bladder syndrome (OAB) is a chronic, disabling condition with physical, psychological and social consequences that significantly affect the quality of life of millions of patients worldwide.

The economic impact of this disorder is crucial. Overactive bladder syndrome is a little known condition, with different manifestations from patient to patient, which can cause a great deal of frustration for health care providers.

According to Urology Care Foundation, overactive bladder syndrome means your bladder is active more often than necessary, causing bladder spasms (when it isn’t full of fluid), and you experience both frequent urination and sudden urges to urinate, something that can be hard to control and may results in accidents and interfere with daily life.

It’s a quite common condition experienced by an estimated 33 million Americans, with about 30% of men and 40% of women affected. A lot of them don’t ask for help because they feel ashamed. Many people either don’t know how to talk with their health care provider about their symptoms or they don’t know there aren’t treatments that can help.

People living with overactive bladder may adjust their lifestyles to cope with their symptoms, since OAB can get in the way of your work, social life, exercise and sleep. You may not want to go out with friends or family or go far from home because you are afraid of being far from a bathroom. This makes many people feel lonely and isolated among others problems. Overactive bladder also can disrupt your sleep and sex life.

As a reporter, I have written about entertainment, politics, economics and health, and I have reported stories about essentials workers, public transportation workers, street vendors, hate crimes and racism, among other themes.

I like to observe people and everything that happen on the streets because I’m always looking for facts or incidents that I can write about. It grabbed my attention when a person urinated on the seat of a public bus in Los Angeles, and then months later I saw a lady standing at the bus stop who suddenly urinated and started to cry. She looked so sad and desperate. I decided to investigate what was happening more broadly, and I found out that there’s not much information available to the public.

My project for 2023 California Health Equity Fellowship will focus on this health issue to try to help to highlight the need for more information, solutions and empathy for those dealing with this condition. 

For the reporting, I will use the data available from Urology Care Foundation, the National Association for Continence, and Urology America, and also I will interview specialists and primary care physicians to learn more about how much research and studies have been done about overactive bladder.

And I will gather the stories of those dealing with overactive bladder syndrome to get a better picture of this issue and how they are facing this health problem amid the COVID-19 pandemic.