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The most common disease you’ve never heard of

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Louise de Winter

CEO, The Urology Foundation

Overactive bladder can completely ruin a life and it is more common than both diabetes and asthma, yet it’s almost never spoken about. It’s time we brought a stop to that. Here’s our guide.


For the roughly eight million people in the UK who struggle with overactive bladder (OAB), it means that they find it very difficult to hold their bladders. If you are suffering from OAB you may find yourself suddenly desperate for the loo and you will have to find a toilet in time or risk wetting yourself.

This can have an enormous impact on a life. You find yourself going to bed at night knowing that you’ll have to get up multiple times to rush to the loo. If you have an important meeting at work, you’ll find it difficult to be there for long without having to rush out. Going out anywhere is risky because you always need to know you can access a toilet.

Anything from going to the cinema or theatre, to a sports match or country walk, can become fraught. For some people with OAB, the fear of not being able to find a toilet can leave them housebound.

Overactive bladder (OAB) can ruin a life, but help is at hand

We don’t talk about OAB enough. In fact, we more or less don’t talk about it at all. There is a shame aspect associated with toilet troubles and it’s time we tackled it. No one should be too ashamed to come forward for help because treatments for OAB are readily available.

For World Continence Week this year, The Urology Foundation (TUF) celebrated 15 years of the use of Botox as a treatment for OAB.

This is, in part, thanks to research that Mr Arun Sahai conducted with a grant from The Urology Foundation. With TUF’s funding, Mr Sahai was able to run the world’s first, level one, double blind placebo controlled trial of Botox as a treatment for idiopathic OAB.

Botox, as well as drug treatments, is easy to access and so no one should be worried about seeing their GP if they have an issue with holding their bladder.

Get your Need To Pee card

If you struggle with holding your bladder and finding yourself needing the toilet often, then you might benefit from having one of TUF’s Need to Pee cards.

These cards are designed to get you access to a toilet in a local business with a minimum amount of fuss and time.

Get your Need To Pee card from theurologyfoundation.org/needtopee

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