The symptoms of neurogenic bladder differ from person to person. They also depend on the type of nerve damage the person has. Some people have symptoms of both overactive and underactive bladder. People with MS, stroke and herpes zoster are more likely to have both kinds of symptoms.
Urinary Tract Infection
People with overactive and underactive bladder can get repeated urinary tract infections. These are often the first symptom of neurogenic bladder. This repeated illness is caused by harmful bacteria, viruses or yeast growing in the urinary tract.
Leaking Urine (incontinence) with Overactive Bladder
In overactive bladder (often seen with strokes, brain disease and Parkinson's disease), the muscles squeeze more often than normal. Sometimes this squeezing causes urine to leak before you're ready to go to the bathroom (incontinence). With overactive bladder, you feel a sudden urge to go the bathroom that you can't ignore. This "gotta go" feeling makes you afraid you will leak urine if you don't get to a bathroom right away. You may or may not leak urine after feeling this urge to go. You may leak just a few drops of urine. Sometimes you may gush a large amount of urine. Sometimes urine will leak while you sleep.
Frequency in OAB
Another OAB symptom is going to the bathroom many times during the day or night. (You may produce only small amounts of urine.) The number of times someone urinates differs from person to person. But many experts agree that going to the bathroom more than 8 times in 24 hours is "frequent urination."
Urinary Retention/Obstruction with Underactive Bladder
In people with an underactive bladder (often seen with diabetes, MS, polio, syphilis or major pelvic surgery), the bladder muscle may not squeeze when it needs to. The sphincter muscles around the urethra also may not work the right way. They may stay tight when you are trying to empty your bladder. With UAB symptoms, you may only produce a "dribble" of urine. You may not be able to empty your bladder fully (urinary retention). Sometimes you may not be able to empty your bladder at all (obstructive bladder).
How Can Neurogenic Bladder Affect Your Life?
The symptoms of neurogenic bladder can seriously affect your quality of life. They may make it difficult for you to get through your day without interruptions. You may feel afraid to go out with friends, take vacations or do everyday things. You may be afraid you may not be able to find a bathroom when you need one. Some people begin to cancel activities and withdraw from their lives. Neurogenic bladder may affect your work and your relationships. You may feel tired, depressed, anxious and lonely. If you are experiencing incontinence, the leaking urine can sometimes cause skin problems or infections.
What Should You Do If You Are Having Symptoms?
It is important to talk with your health care provider and find out what is causing your symptoms. The symptoms of neurogenic bladder may seem like the symptoms of other illnesses and medical problems. Your health care provider can help rule out other issues.
Sometimes neurogenic bladder symptoms can lead to more serious bladder problems. But there are a number of treatments available. You and your health care provider can decide which treatment is best for you.