Frequent urination causes, symptoms, and treatment

By: Dr. Victor Marchione | Bladder | Monday, August 15, 2016 - 04:00 PM

frequent urinationIf you have the need to urinate more than you normally would, this is referred to as frequent urination, or polyuria. While in some situations it can be a temporary issue, in other cases it could be a symptom of an underlying medical condition that requires careful attention.

Doctors consider urinating every two hours or more often as frequent urination. The key to dealing with this problem is figuring out the cause and thus getting the right treatment. Frequent urination can be a challenge since in some cases a person may lose control of their bladder when the urge to go to the washroom strikes. It can feel uncomfortable since your bladder can feel very full.

Polyuria is not just an inconvenience. It can affect the quality of your sleep since you are waking up at the night to go to the washroom. It can also be a symptom of a medical condition. Research suggests that many people with this problem avoid discussing it with a doctor because they find it too embarrassing, while others are too afraid to bring it up because they fear the underlying cause may be very serious.

The truth is, when people seek medical attention for frequent urination, they often discover that the cause is not serious and can be easily treated. In fact, for some people, the reason for the urge to urinate is as simple as drinking too many fluids, or caffeinated or alcoholic beverages. Pregnant women urinate a lot because the enlarged uterus is pressing on the bladder, so pregnancy could be the issue for some people.

Since some frequent urination causes can be more serious, it is best to get an assessment from a doctor.

Causes of frequent urination

There are a number of frequent urination causes that doctors consider when a person complains about the sudden urge to urinate or the need to urinate frequently. One cause that sounds almost too simple, but it is true, is anxiety.

Stress and anxiety can trigger stress hormones to travel to certain spots in the body – the bladder being one of those areas – and bring about physiological changes. Relaxation and stress reduction often eliminate the frequent urination.

Below is a list of other potential causes of frequent urination:

  • Urinary tract infection – an infection in any part of your urinary system – your kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. Most infections are in the bladder and the urethra.
  • Medications – certain drugs, including diuretics, can lead to increased urination.
  • Infection of the prostate gland – a bacterial infection that causes frequent urination.
  • Kidney infection – can involve symptoms like cloudy and smelly urine along with urination frequency.
  • Overactive bladder – this is a sudden urge to urinate that you can’t control due to unexplained, uncontrolled bladder contractions.
  • Tumor or mass in the pelvic area
  • Bladder cancer
  • Abnormal opening in urinary tract
  • Urinary incontinence – common in the elderly.
  • Diverticulitis this is inflammation in the inner lining of the large intestine.
  • Diabetes – can happen when the body tries to rid itself of unused glucose through the urine.
  • Stroke or neurological diseases – can damage nerves that serve the bladder.

Frequent urination in females is often due to urinary tract infections. It is estimated that 60 percent of women will experience at least one UTI in their lifetime.  Of course, frequent urination in pregnancy is another big contributor for women.

Symptoms associated with frequent urination

overactive bladderIf you experience frequent urination, you might feel the urge to go to the washroom a lot, but that is not the only symptom associated with this condition.

When you see a doctor for urination problems, they will discuss the volume of urine you are getting rid of, whether you are having difficulty emptying your bladder, and if you are having any accidents – not able to make it to the washroom in time.

These are all symptoms that could help determine the cause of the frequent urination. Although every person is different, the basic symptoms of frequent urination include the following:

When urinary frequency in impacting your life in a significant way or you have unexplained symptoms, including pain in your back, a fever, chills, bloody or cloudy urine, or discharge from the vagina or penis, you should seek medical attention. It is also important to see a doctor if you notice a sudden increase in thirst.

Diagnosis of frequent urination

In order to diagnose the cause of frequent urination, a doctor will likely ask a lot of questions and conduct a physical exam. Here are some of the questions you can expect. Do you have problems with urination during the day or at night? Is frequent urination at night leading to lack of sleep? How much liquid do you drink in a day? Do you drink alcohol or caffeinated beverages? What medications, if any, do you take? Depending on your answers and your medical history, the doctor may conduct one or more of the following:

  • Urinalysis – this is to measure various compounds that pass through the urine.
  • Cystometry a test that measures pressure inside the bladder to see how the bladder is working.
  • Ultrasound diagnostic imaging to visualize the bladder and surrounding area.
  • Neurological tests diagnostic procedures to confirm or rule out a nerve disorder.

While the tests may sound scary, they are actually quite simple and painless. Once the tests, physical exam, and questions are complete, the doctor will be closer to the cause and will be able to put you on a treatment plan of some sort.

Treatment options for frequent urination

When frequent urination turns out to be something other than a temporary issue, such as a urinary tract infection, there is no need to despair and to think that you are destined to be a hermit because you need to be near a washroom at all times. While there is no cure, there are a number of different treatments that can help keep frequent urination episodes under control.

For example, if diabetes is the cause, treatment might involve managing blood sugar levels. If a person has overactive bladder, treatment could begin with behavioral therapies, such as bladder retaining, diet adjustments, and Kegel exercises. Bladder training slowly increases the intervals between using the washroom to help your bladder retain urine longer. Kegels are exercises to strengthen the muscles around the bladder and urethra to improve bladder control.

Treatment for frequent urination can also involve medications. Some drugs come in the form of tablets, while others come in the form of a patch. In recent years, the drug Botox has been used to treat some people with frequent urination. The serum is injected into the bladder muscle, causing it to relax and increasing its storage capacity. This can reduce episodes of leaking.

Surgery is possible, but it should be a last resort. The least invasive is a procedure that involves implanting a nerve stimulator beneath the skin to help manipulate contractions in the muscles and organs within the pelvic floor.

In many cases, people find that simply monitoring their fluid intake is really helpful. For example, they notice if they avoid drinking close to their bedtime they don’t experience as much urination. At the same time, avoiding certain foods, such as spicy foods, chocolate, artificial sweeteners, and other foods that can irritate their bladders can reduce urine frequency.

About 13 million Americans suffer from urinary frequency, and it is not just the older population. People of all ages can have urinary problems. Many young patients experience an abnormal opening or obstruction in the urinary tract, which is also called a functional bladder outlet obstruction. It can be treated. On the other end of the spectrum, the elderly experience a lot of incontinence – about 77 percent of nursing home residents.

No matter what age or stage of life you are in, you don’t have to live with the discomfort of urinary frequency. As you can tell, it is rather common, so doctors are accustomed to discussing it with patients.

Related:Natural home remedies for frequent urination

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