Frequent urination is an inconvenient condition that can affect both men and women.
It is sometimes called an overactive bladder or urgent urination.
The frequent urge to urinate is often unpleasant and is sometimes even a sign of a serious medical problem.
The frequent urination can interfere with your work, hobbies, sleep and mood, so it’s important to talk to your doctor if you are concerned about the frequency and amount of urine.
Most people can sleep through the night without urinating, or they only need to get up once to go to the bathroom. People who have to get up several times during the night may have a condition called nocturia.
Adults generally pass about 3 cups to 3 quarts (700 milliliters to 3 liters) of urine in a day. Those who urinate in higher volumes may have a condition known as polyuria.
Frequent urination is not always a sign of a medical problem. Many older men and women find that they have to urinate more frequently as the bladder gradually loses its ability to hold.
Pregnant women also have to urinate more often, especially during the last few months of pregnancy, as the growing uterus pushes on the bladder.
Urination will also occur more frequently if you are drinking a lot of fluids, particularly caffeinated or alcoholic beverages.
However, remember that urinating a lot can be a primary problem, or the symptom of another problem. It can cause embarrassment and inconvenience during the day and trouble sleeping at night. It is usually manageable, often dealing with the underlying condition.
Who experiences frequent urination?
Frequent urination can affect anyone. However, it is more common in middle-aged and older men and women. It is also common in pregnant women.
Symptoms: How often is ‘frequent’?
Frequent urination is defined as urinating more often than you think is normal. Urination can occur in small or large amounts.
Specialists have defined frequent urination as urinating more than 4 to 8 times a day for healthy people who are not pregnant.
Additional symptoms of a possible medical problem may include:
- Discolored or foul-smelling urine.
- Cloudy urine
- Blood in the urine.
- Pain when urinating
- Difficulty urinating.
- Abdominal pain.
- Loss of bladder control.
- Discharge from the penis or vagina.
- Nausea or vomiting
Talk to your doctor if the cause of frequent urination cannot be explained by increased fluid intake, especially caffeine or alcohol.
What are the causes of frequent urination?
Frequent urination is often caused by diseases that affect parts of the urinary tract, such as the kidneys, bladder, ureters, and urethra.
Other conditions, such as diabetes, prostate problems, and pregnancy are also common causes of frequent urination.
Urinary tract infections (UTI)
These infections are the most common cause of frequent urination. They occur when bacteria invade the urethra, which connects the penis or vagina to the bladder.
This causes inflammation, which can decrease the bladder’s ability to hold urine.
UTIs can affect various parts of the urinary tract:
- Urethritis is the infection of the urethra.
- Cystitis is the infection of the bladder.
- Pyelonephritis is an infection of the kidneys.
UTIs are common in women and girls.
Additional symptoms generally include:
- A burning sensation when urinating.
- Occasional fever
- Pain in the back side of the back.
- Blood in the urine.
- Unpleasant smelling urine.
Frequent urination can be a sign of uncontrolled type 1 or type 2 diabetes. When diabetes is not controlled, excess sugar causes more fluid to pass from the kidneys into the urine.
Uncontrolled diabetes is the most common cause of polyuria, or urinating more than normal. Additional signs can include excessive thirst and hunger, weight loss, fatigue, vision problems, and mood swings.
If you think you may have diabetes, it is important to speak with your doctor as soon as possible. Frequent urination can cause dehydration and lead to severe kidney problems, or diabetic ketoacidosis or hyperosmolar coma, conditions that can be life-threatening.
An enlarged prostate can cause the bladder to contract and affect the flow of urine. Also known as benign prostatic hyperplasia, an enlarged, non-cancerous prostate is the most common cause of frequent urination in men over 50 years of age.
Additional symptoms may include difficulty urinating, dripping urine, getting up frequently at night to urinate, and the feeling that urination is incomplete.
Frequent urination during pregnancy is not a sign of any medical problems, and it usually occurs during the last months of pregnancy. A growing uterus and fetus put pressure on the bladder, which must be emptied more often.
This can also cause urine to leak during a sneeze or cough. Pregnant women are also at increased risk for urinary tract infections.
Additional medical causes of frequent urination may include:
- Interstitial cystitis.
- Bladder cancer.
- Prostate cancer.
- Stones in the bladder.
- Kidney infection (pyelonephritis).
- Radiation therapy
- Diabetes insipidus.
- Pelvic tumor
- Overactive bladder syndrome.
- Drinking alcohol and caffeine can also cause more frequent urination.
Certain medications can also cause frequent urination
Diuretics such as Lasix (furosemide), Demadex (torsemide), Bumex (bumetanide), Maxzide (triamterene with hydrochlorothiazide), and Esidrix, Hydrodiuril or Oretic (hydrochlorothiazide) can increase urine production in the kidneys.
Muscle relaxants and sedatives, such as Valium (diazepam), Librium (chlordiazepoxide), and Ativan (lorazepam) can also cause frequent urination.
What is causing my child to urinate frequently?
Sometimes toilet-trained children begin to urinate more often than normal during the day, as often as every few minutes.
This condition is called frequency and can be caused by stress; other times there is no identifiable cause. The condition is generally harmless and will resolve in a few weeks or months.
If your child experiences pain or burning during urination, leakage of urine, changes in bowel movements, or any other symptoms, frequent urination is often attributed to another medical condition and parents should consult their child’s pediatrician.
If the child does not experience any of these additional symptoms and their doctor also suspects that they have frequency, it is suggested that parents can reassure them that they can wait longer between trips to the bathroom and that nothing bad will happen.
When should you worry about frequent urination?
In some cases, frequent urination may just be an inconvenience that will end after pregnancy, or if a person cuts down on alcohol or caffeine, for example.
Treating a UTI with antibiotics also usually resolves frequent urination. However, frequent urination can also be a symptom of a serious underlying condition, and should always be discussed with your doctor.
You should see your doctor immediately if your frequent urination is accompanied by other symptoms such as:
- Threw up.
- Back pain.
- Blood in the urine.
What can a diagnosis tell me about why I am urinating so much?
If you’ve been urinating frequently, your doctor can run a series of tests to determine the cause. To determine if you have polyuria, your doctor can measure how much you urinate over a 24-hour period.
If your doctor suspects that you have a urinary tract infection or a prostate infection, they may take a urine sample and perform a urinalysis.
They may also perform a cystoscopy to see the inside of your bladder or an ultrasound to inspect your bladder or other organs.
If your doctor thinks you have an enlarged prostate, they may do blood tests to measure the level of protein specific antigen (PSA) in your blood and then do a prostate biopsy.
Your doctor can also check your blood sugar levels to check for diabetes mellitus.
Additional tests may include:
- Urine Culture.
- Nervous system tests.
- Computed tomography.
- Magnetic resonance.
Are there treatments for frequent urination?
Treatment for frequent urination will depend on the underlying medical cause. Antibiotics are typically prescribed to treat a urinary tract infection. If you have an enlarged prostate, you may be prescribed medicine to shrink your prostate.
If you have overactive bladder syndrome, your doctor may prescribe medications such as Ditropan (oxybutynin) or Vesicare (solifenacin).
If you are diagnosed with diabetes mellitus, your doctor may recommend changes to your diet, insulin injections, oral medications, or some combination of these.
While receiving treatment, your doctor may also recommend that you wear adult underwear.
Prevention: Is there a way to urinate less?
Depending on the condition, your doctor may also recommend lifestyle changes that can reduce or prevent frequent urination.
These may include:
- Kegel exercises to strengthen the muscles of the bladder and pelvis.
- Reduce the consumption of alcohol and caffeine.
- Reduce your fluid intake before going to bed.