How is OAB diagnosed?
The symptoms that occur with OAB and the different types of incontinence may be similar. However, the underlying causes and predisposing conditions are different and consequently, the type of treatment that is required depends on the underlying illness. To decide which treatment is appropriate for you requires a careful and accurate diagnosis. Some of the steps in diagnosing OAB and the specific cause of incontinence are listed below.8
1. Identify symptoms
There are a number of questionnaires that are available to help to identify symptoms of OAB and incontinence.6,9,10 A simple questionnaire is the OAB Screener.10 If you are concerned that you may be experiencing symptoms of OAB or incontinence, click here to complete the questionnaire and discuss your answers with your doctor.
2. Exclude common causes of urinary symptoms
One common cause of symptoms in women is a urinary tract infection.6 Your doctor may take a urine sample to test for infection.
Blood tests may be useful to exclude other possible causes of symptoms, such as diabetes.6,8
3. Bladder diary
A bladder diary is a useful and accurate method by which to document episodes of urgency and incontinence and activities that might be related to symptoms.6,8 Useful information that can be recorded in a bladder diary includes:
- How often you go to the toilet to pass urine during the daytime and nighttime
- The amount of urine passed during the day and at night
- The frequency and amount of urine leakage
- Feelings of urgency
- How much fluid you drink
- Activities that might cause symptoms
Keeping a diary for 3 days is often long enough to provide an accurate impression of symptoms.11 Furthermore, keeping a diary after you start treatment is also useful to indicate how well the treatment is improving symptoms.
Click here for an example of a bladder diary which you can complete and take with you when you visit your doctor or other healthcare professional.
4. Further tests to investigate bladder function8
Sometimes additional tests are necessary to quantify the bladder’s ability to store and expel urine. These tests are known as urodynamic investigations and include tests to determine:
- how well urine flows out of the bladder
- measurements of how well the bladder stores urine
Imaging studies, for example ultrasound, X-rays and cystoscopy (using a camera to look inside the bladder) can be used to study the structure of the bladder and surrounding areas of the body.
How is OAB treated?