What is Frequent Urination?
Frequent urination is the need to pass urine more than is considered normal for you.
Whilst everyone is different, normal urination generally means passing urine about every 3-4 hours. This equates to a maximum of eight times a day, and usually only one of these is at night. (1)
Urine is waste in liquid form of which the kidneys filter from the blood and then store in the bladder. When the bladder becomes full we feel the need to urinate and dispel this waste from the body. (2)
There are many scenarios that can increase the amount we urinate, we will detail some of the more common ones.
Drinking Too Much
Excess fluid intake can result in the need to urinate frequently. The recommended average fluid intake to avoid dehydration is about 6-8 glasses of water per day.
The type of fluids you drink can also factor into frequent urination. Caffeinated drinks like tea and coffee, energy drinks and soda can mean more urination because of the diuretic effects. (3)
As we have mentioned, the kidneys filter water and waste from the blood and produce urine. This filtered waste passes through tubes called the ureters to the bladder where it is stored. When the bladder is full, urine passes to the urethra and is expelled from the body. (4)
Diabetes happens when glucose or sugar levels in the blood are elevated. This source of energy is converted for use in the body by a hormone called insulin. When not enough insulin is produced, the amount of glucose in the blood increases and can’t be used.
This condition can cause many health issues and one of the symptoms is frequent urination. (6)
Urinary Tract Infection
A urinary tract infection is a bacterial infection that happens predominantly in women, in fact four times more than in men. Also known as cystitis, this condition affects between 40 and 60 percent of women at least once in their lifetime.
When you have this type of infection urination will be frequent and can be accompanied by pain or a burning sensation. Even when you have just emptied your bladder you can still feel the need pass urine. (7,8)
The bladder is where urine is stored once produced by the kidneys. When it becomes full signals are sent to the brain and the muscles in the bladder contract. At the same time muscles in the urethra and pelvis relax allowing the expulsion of urine. (9)
There are conditions that can affect bladder function and interrupt the normal sequence of events that cause urination.
An overactive bladder can contract the muscles to release urine even when the bladder is not full. The result is frequent urination and sometimes incontinence. (10)
Bladder stones are minerals that form a lump in the bladder when urine is retained. One of the signs of this condition is frequent urination which can be more often at night. (12)
When we take various forms of medication, what our body doesn’t use passes into the urine for excretion. The consequences results in bladder issues which can lead to frequent urination or incontinence.
This is particularly prevalent in the older population and includes medications for depression, parkinson’s and dementia.
Diuretics are drugs that increase the amount of salt we excrete in urine and reduce water retention in the body. They are often prescribed for patients with high blood pressure, heart conditions and edema.
Pregnancy causes many changes in a woman’s body, and many of these affect the urinary system. Consequently frequency of urination both at day and night is increased. (17)
Anxiety and Stress
Sexually Transmitted Infections
These type of infections often present with similar symptoms to those of urinary tract infections. Chlamydia and gonorrhea cause infection that increases frequency of urination. (20)
Stroke and Brain Conditions
Diseases that affect the central nervous system can interfere with signals sent to the bladder. The result might be frequent urination or incontinence.
The prostate gland is located at the bottom of the bladder and top of the urethra in men. With an enlarged prostate, you might feel that your bladder never really empties and the need to urinate will be frequent. (22)
The overriding symptom of this condition is the need to urinate more frequently than you normally would. Generally speaking this would be in excess of eight times in 24 hours .
A need to urinate more than twice during the night (nocturia) is another common symptom.
There are other symptoms that could accompany your need to urinate frequently which would give cause for concern.
Pain, burning or discomfort and change of color in your urine are warning signs something else may be wrong. The presence of blood or loss of bladder control will alert you the fact there may be underlying issues.
Urinary issues can be embarrassing and reluctance to seek medical help may be the result. However medical professionals are used to this and are there to help.
A doctor will discuss your medical history and any medications you are taking. They will want to know the frequency of your urination and also how quantities compare to normal.
Note how much fluid you drink and the types of fluid, for example water, tea, coffee, juice, alcohol or soda.
A physical examination will be done which differs for men and women. Men can have their prostate examined to check for enlargement, which involves placing a gloved finger in the rectum. While women may have a pelvic examination to check for tenderness.
A urine test will be done to check for infections which could be the cause of frequent urination.
There are other tests that may be required and these include ultrasound scans, cystoscopy and urodynamic tests.
Ultrasound scans can identify the amount of urine in your bladder or any other anomalies of the urinary tract.
Cystoscopy uses a small device with a camera that can look inside your urinary system and bladder.
What is frequent urination? Frequent urination is the need to pass urine more than what is normal for you. You might also find you need to urinate more during the night.
What causes frequent urination? Frequent urination is a symptom of many other conditions. It could simply be that you are drinking too many fluids or there is an underlying illness or infection.
How do doctors test for frequent urination? Following taking medical history and a physical examination, doctors will test for conditions that may be causing frequent urination. These include urine tests, imaging scans and checks to measure abdominal pressure, urine flow and quantity.
Can you prevent frequent urination? There are things you can do to reduce the risk of experiencing frequent urination. Monitor the amount of fluid you drink, particularly late in the day and avoid caffeinated drinks and sodas. Maintain a healthy weight and exercise regularly. For women, doing exercises that strengthen your pelvic floor will benefit the health of your urinary tract. (26)
What can relieve frequent urination? Relief of frequent urination comes from diagnosis of the cause and subsequent treatment.
What are the risk factors for frequent urination? As we get older there is a higher chance in incidence of conditions and diseases which contribute to frequent urination. (27)
Are there any complications associated with frequent urination? The need to urinate frequently can take its toll on daily life. If you are out you may need to locate the nearest bathroom to where you are just in case. Nocturnal urination can disturb sleeping patterns and leave you feeling lethargic during the day. (28)
Frequent urination means passing more urine on more occasions than is typical for you. If this is happening it night it can interfere with sleep and leave you tired during the day.
There are many underlying causes of this condition and identifying them and getting treatment is the primary aim. Very often, once the source of the issue has been identified the prognosis for recovery is good.
However, there are certain factors that can help, like taking regular exercise and following a healthy diet. Monitoring your choice and quantity of beverages can also have a positive effect.