Diuresis: Causes, symptoms, treatment, and complications


Diuresis is a medical term used to refer to increased urination and is often used in a context pertaining to the physiologic processes of urine production by the kidneys and the overall health of the individual. This means that your kidneys will produce an increased volume of urine to be excreted from the body that may coincide with increases in lost ions and salts, in the name of preserving the normal fluid balance of the body.


Adults typically urinate about four to six times a day, averaging between three cups and three quarts of urine. Having diuresis will lead to increases in these averages, even though fluid intake has not changed (depending on the cause).

The following are the various types of diuresis:

  • Osmotic diuresis: Characterized by an increased rate of urination due to the presence of certain substances in the small tubes of the kidneys.
  • Forced diuresis: Generally caused by diuretic medication and fluids, possibly enhancing the excretion of certain drugs in the urine. This form of diuresis can be used to treat drug overdose and poisoning of certain drugs as well.
  • Pressure diuresis: Caused by increases in arterial pressure in an attempt to maintain blood pressure in a normal range.
  • Rebound diuresis: The sudden increase of urine flow that occurs after recovery from acute renal failure.
  • Post obstructive diuresis: Characterized by increased urine output after a urinary blockage is removed. This may occur in patients suffering from urinary tract infections caused by kidney stones, prostate hypertrophy, and kidney infections.

Also read: Common causes of frequent urination at night (nocturia): Symptoms, treatment, and natural remedies

What are the causes and complications of diuresis?

There are several pathological processes that occur in the body inducing a state of diuresis. This may also be caused by the use of certain medications, either intentionally or otherwise. It is important to note that the kidneys work as an independent organ that does its job to filter and reabsorb water and substances when functioning normally. An increase in urine is often a response from the kidneys in an attempt to ensure the body is maintaining homeostasis, a state of equilibrium. This can be appreciated in normal states when you choose to drink more water than you need. To handle this increase in water consumption, your kidneys will filter out more water than usual in order to maintain the normal fluid balance of the body.

The following are the various causes of diuresis:

  • Diabetes: A metabolic condition characterized by an inability to utilize or a complete lack of a pancreatic hormone called insulin. As a result of this, excess glucose (sugar), which your body obtains from the foods you eat, begin to accumulate in the bloodstream, leading to a condition called hyperglycemia. Your kidneys job is to filter the blood from wastes and toxins. Glucose cannot be reabsorbed by the kidney, causing an increase in osmotic pressure (the minimum pressure which needs to be applied to a solution to prevent the inward flow of its pure solvent across a semipermeable membrane) within the tubule of the kidney, causing water to be unabsorbed, increasing urine output.
  • Diuretics: Also known as water pills, this form of medication is used to promote the kidneys ability to expel excess fluid. The most common reason to prescribe diuretics is for the maintenance of blood pressure. Also, cases of heart failure and chronic kidney disease may lead to fluid overload, requiring these drugs to help get rid of the excess volume.
  • Hypercalcemia: A medical term referring to increased calcium in the blood stream. Having increased levels of this chemical element in the body can cause increased urination in an attempt to balance its levels in the body.
  • Diet: Foods such as fresh fruits, juices, leafy green vegetables, as well as some herbs such as parsley and dandelion may be considered natural diuretics, making you go to the bathroom more often. Additionally, excessively salty foods and caffeine consumption can lead to a similar effect.
  • Cold temperatures: Due to the body’s natural inclination to constrict in colder weather to maintain heat. This also extends to the blood vessels in your urinary system as well as your bladder, making it smaller, and therefore increasing your urge to urinate. Additionally, vasoconstriction increases blood pressure, which creates a response by the body to produce hormones that tell it to eliminate urine.

Also read: Anuria (inability to urinate): What are its causes and how do you treat it?

What are the symptoms of diuresis?

Diuresis symptoms include:

  • Increased urine production: Characterized by an abnormal increase in the amount of urine passed
  • Discomfort: Minor levels of discomfort may be experienced due to the excessive passage of urine
  • Increased thirst: Losing excessive amounts of urine will cause your body to yearn for the consumption of fluids, increasing thirst.
  • Fatigue: The loss of excessive amounts of fluid as well as essential electrolytes can lead to tiredness.
  • Disturbed sleep: The increased urge to urinate can often disrupt sleep

How to diagnose diuresis

The diagnosis of diuresis is purely a clinical one, which means that your doctor will base their decision on your currently presenting symptoms. Diuresis is often a feature of a particular underlying cause. Considering the number of different causes of diuresis, the reasoning behind the phenomenon will have to be investigated further. This will often lead to further evaluation of other criteria evaluating overall health to identify a potential cause.

This includes the implementation of various tests including a blood test (complete blood count), a urinalysis, as well as other lines of investigation depending on the suspected diagnosis. Treatment will fall in line with the identification of the potential cause.



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Author Bio

Emily Lunardo studied medical sociology at York University with a strong focus on the social determinants of health and mental illness. She is a registered Zumba instructor, as well as a Canfit Pro trainer, who teaches fitness classes on a weekly basis. Emily practices healthy habits in her own life as well as helps others with their own personal health goals. Emily joined Bel Marra Health as a health writer in 2013.



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