Many Europeans Don't Seek Help for Overactive Bladder

Less than half affected say they'd see a doctor about the problem, survey finds

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FRIDAY, Jan. 20, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Bladder problems affect one in six Europeans over 40 and while more that 75 percent of people with overactive bladders say their condition makes it difficult for them to perform daily activities, only 43 percent would consider consulting a doctor about the problem.

That's according to a new survey published in the latest issue of BJU International.

Overactive bladder symptoms include the need to empty the bladder urgently and more frequently during the day and night, and some people with the problem also have incontinence.

Researchers surveyed more than 11,500 people, aged 40 to 64, in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden and the U.K. At least 300 people with overactive bladder were identified and interviewed in each country.

"Thirty-two percent of the people interviewed said that their condition made them depressed, and 28 percent reported feeling stressed. Yet 48 percent of women and 40 percent of men felt that it was not a valid medical condition," lead researcher Debra E. Irwin, School of Public Health at the University of North Carolina, said in a prepared statement.

The study also found that:

  • 28 percent of women and 19 percent of men said that overactive bladder was ignored by the medical community.
  • 79 percent of men and 74 percent of women felt that the condition was just something they had to live with.
  • 76 percent of men and 67 percent of women viewed overactive bladder as part of the normal aging process.
  • The problem had a negative impact on many people's work lives. For example, 21 percent reported they had to interrupt meetings with frequent trips to the toilet and 3 percent said that overactive bladder had caused them to be fired or to change jobs.
  • The condition also affected social lives -- 28 percent reported they felt uncomfortable doing things away from home, 22 percent said the condition made them feel uncomfortable with people they didn't know, and 20 percent said it made them feel uncomfortable with people they did know.

"It's clear that overactive bladder, whether it's with or without incontinence, has a significant effect on people's lives, including negative effects on their emotional well-being and their ability to feel at ease at work or in social situations," Irwin said.

"Our findings indicate that there is considerable scope for improving how doctors diagnose and treat this condition and for encouraging people with [overactive bladder] to seek medical care," she said.

More information

The National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse has more about overactive bladder.

SOURCE: Blackwell Publishing Ltd., news release, Jan. 16, 2006

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