What’s the Difference between OAB and Incontinence?

Bladder issues impact the lives of countless Americans. As many as 30% of men and 40% of women living in the United States suffer from overactive bladder (OAB), and more than 60% of American women experience incontinence as they grow older. 

Many patients may feel ashamed or embarrassed to discuss incontinence or OAB with their doctor. However, not discussing the condition only perpetuates the uncomfortable effects. 

While OAB and urinary incontinence are similar, their treatments and symptoms differ.  


Overactive Bladder

OAB is often characterized by a repeated, urgent need to urinate, urine leakage (incontinence), nocturia (the frequent need to urinate at night) and increased urinary frequency. 

This can be attributed to the detrusor muscle of the bladder, which experiences more frequent contractions, leading to increased urges. OAB can also be brought on by: infection in the bladder, damage to nerves in the bladder, neurological diseases, a stroke, medication, bladder cancer, urinary tract infections (UTIs) or an enlarged prostate. 

Your doctor will conduct a complete health history exam to learn about your experience with OAB. Further testing may be required. 

Your physician may ask about your frequency of urination, how often you leak urine, any pain or discomfort and any medication changes.

OAB can be treated with medication, changes to your diet and behavior modification, as well as sacral nerve stimulation via Interstim, based on the severity of your OAB symptoms. Doctors recommend that OAB patients limit their caffeine and alcohol intake, as these can irritate the bladder and worsen conditions. 



More than 25 million Americans experience the effects of urinary incontinence, but it isn’t a normal part of the aging process. Bladder control issues can occur in men and women of all ages and can be treated and, in most cases, improved so it’s no longer a nuisance to your health and social life. 

Incontinence treatments range from timed voiding and urgency suppression, prescribed medicines, pelvic floor exercises, keeping a void diary and, in some cases, medical devices or surgery. 

Don’t suffer the effects of OAB or incontinence in silence. Discover the answers to your bladder control questions at Arkansas Urology and receive expert consultation and advanced care from the region’s top urologists. 


Arkansas Urology strives to provide each and every patient with nondiscriminatory, life-changing care. For more information on access, visit our FAQ section

Ready to schedule an appointment? Contact us today or book your appointment online. We look forward to seeing you soon.

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