What is frequent urination at night?
Frequent urination at night can be stopped through a number of steps including medications, home remedies and lifestyle changes, and even surgery.
If your sleep is constantly interrupted in the middle of the night because you need to go to the bathroom, you’re not alone. Nocturia is the need to urinate at night — nearly 69% of men and 76% of women over the age of 40 experience bothersome nocturia, or the need for frequent urination at night.
There are many factors that affect how often you urinate at night. In fact, there are so many it can be difficult for doctors to diagnose the reasons you might be experiencing it. It helps to know the signs and symptoms of nocturia so that you can help the doctor diagnose the condition. Knowing what can be done to treat the condition can help you take actions to reduce the frequency of your nighttime journeys to the bathroom.
Nighttime urination is known as nocturia. It is generally not a concern unless you're getting up more than twice a night. It also becomes an issue if it starts to affect your quality of life, work, or relationships.
Polyuria occurs when your body makes too much urine over a 24-hour period. Low voided volume, or low bladder capacity, is a type of nocturia where your bladder can’t store as much urine as your body produces. This causes you to frequently need to go to the bathroom.
Nocturnal polyuria occurs when your body makes too much urine at night, and mixed origin nocturia is a condition where any of the types can combine to cause frequent urination at night.
Symptoms of frequent urination at night
Some signs that you might have nocturia are:
- A feeling of not fully emptying your bladder
- Urinating more than once every two hours
- An intermittent urine stream
- Problems holding it, or feeling like you might not make it to the toilet
- A dribbling stream
- Low voided volume
- Nocturnal polyuria
- Mixed origin nocturia
Causes of frequent urination at night
Nocturia occurs when your system is affected by other issues. Some of the urologic causes could be:
- Lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS)
- Neurogenic voiding dysfunction
- Idiopathic nocturnal detrusor overactivity
- Bladder cancer
- Urinary tract infection
- Overactive bladder
If a urologic condition does not cause your nocturia, it might be caused by a non-urologic condition:
- Chronic heart failure
- Diabetes mellitus
- Diabetes insipidus
- Sleep apnea
- Multiple sclerosis
- Chronic pain
- Inadequate fluid intake
- An enlarged prostate
- Diuretics or medication side effects
- Too much fluid or caffeine intake before sleeping
Who gets frequent urination at night?
Anyone can develop frequent nighttime urination. Nocturia is not a concern if you’re able to fall back to sleep and feel rested when you wake up. If you’re having problems getting back to sleep or are drowsy during your waking hours, you might need to talk to the doctor.
Water retention can be a sign of other serious conditions. If you notice swelling ankles or legs, see your doctor immediately as it might indicate problems with your circulatory or lymphatic systems, or your kidneys. Other conditions might cause it as well, so your doctor will need to help you figure it out.
Diagnosing frequent urination at night
If you experience frequent urination at night, you have nocturia. However, you might need a doctor’s help determining the cause if it becomes a problem and you can't figure it out.
In addition to background questions, the doctor may order a urine culture and urinalysis, which tells them if you have an infection or abnormalities in your urine. A blood test checks your cholesterol and thyroid-stimulating hormone levels, while a cystoscopy helps the doctor find any tumors or physical cause possibilities in your bladder.
Another test used for diagnosing a cause of nocturia is the urodynamic test. These tests check to see how well your urinary system holds and releases urine by measuring pressure and urine volume. There are a number of urodynamic tests that can be conducted — your doctor will discuss them with you and determine the best tests to use.
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Treatments for frequent urination at night
There are a number of steps you can take to reduce the amount of nighttime urinations. In addition, there are some medications that your doctor can prescribe if the home remedies don’t work.
Your doctor can give you some medication that reduces the amount of urine your body produces, and some that can relax the bladder, such as diuretics or anticholinergic medicines:
If your nocturia is bothering you, take some steps first to see if a lifestyle change might help. Reduce your fluid intake after dinner and limit caffeinated beverages or alcoholic drinks in the evening.
Sit for an hour before bedtime with your legs elevated to allow any water accumulated there to work its way toward your bladder before you lay down for the night.
If your nocturia is related to another condition, such as sleep apnea, doctors perform surgical corrections to correct the causes.
Complications and side effects of frequent urination at night
Nocturia can be caused by drinking too much fluid before bedtime. If this is the case, you shouldn’t have any side effects if you adjust your fluid intake. However, if your nocturia is a side effect of another condition, you may experience the side effects of any medications you might be taking. Your nocturia may also not disappear when you adjust your lifestyle.
See your doctor if you have tried to adjust your fluid intake to see if there is anything else causing you to urinate frequently at night.