What Is Nocturia?
nocturnal polyuria, is the medical term for
excessive urination during the night. During sleep time, your body produces less
urine that is more concentrated. This means that most people don’t need to wake
up during the night to urinate and can sleep uninterrupted for six to eight
If you need to wake up several times in the
night to urinate, you may be suffering from excessive urination at night. As
well as disrupting your sleep, nocturia can be a sign of an underlying medical
What Are the Causes of Nocturia?
Causes of nocturia range from lifestyle
choices to medical conditions. Nocturia is most common among older adults, but it
can occur at any age.
A variety of medical conditions can cause
nocturia. One of the most common causes of nocturia is a urinary tract
infection (UTI) or bladder infection. These infections cause frequent burning
sensations and urgent urination throughout the day and night, and treatment
usually requires antibiotics.
Other medical conditions that can cause
- infection or enlargement of the
- bladder prolapse
- overactive bladder (OAB) syndrome
- tumors of the bladder, prostate,
or pelvic area
- kidney infection
- edema, or swelling, of the lower
- neurological disorders, such as
multiple sclerosis (MS), Parkinson’s disease, or spinal cord compression
Nocturia is also common in people with organ
failure — typically either heart or liver failure — and those who suffer from
Nocturia can be an early symptom of
pregnancy. This can develop at the beginning of pregnancy, but is more common
later, when the womb presses against the bladder.
Nocturia can be a symptom of obstructive
sleep apnea. This can occur even if the bladder is not full. Once the sleep
apnea is controlled, the nocturia usually goes away.
Some medications may cause nocturia as a side
effect. This is particularly true of diuretics (water pills), which are
prescribed to treat high blood pressure.
You should seek emergency medical care from a
doctor if you lose the ability to urinate, or if you can no longer control
Another common cause of nocturia is excessive
fluid consumption. Alcohol and caffeinated beverages are diuretics, which means
that drinking them causes your body to produce more urine. Consuming either
alcohol or caffeinated beverages in excess can lead to waking up and needing to
urinate at night.
Other people who have nocturia have simply
developed a habit of waking up during the night to urinate.
How Is Nocturia Diagnosed?
Diagnosing the cause of nocturia can be
difficult. Your doctor will need to ask a variety of questions. It can be
useful to maintain a diary for a few days, recording what you drink and how
much, along with how often you go to the toilet.
Questions your doctor may ask you include:
- When did nocturia start?
- How many times a night do you
have to urinate?
- Are you producing less urine than
you did before?
- Do you have accidents or have you
wet the bed?
- Does anything make the problem
- Do you have any other symptoms?
- What medications are you taking?
- Do you have a family history of
bladder problems or diabetes?
You may also undergo testing such as:
- blood sugar test (to check for
- blood urea test
- urine culture
- fluid deprivation test
- imaging tests, such as
What Is the Treatment for Nocturia?
If your nocturia is caused by a medication, taking
the medication earlier in the day may help.
Treatment for nocturia can sometimes include
medication, such as anticholinergic drugs, which help lessen the symptoms of an
overactive bladder, or desmopressin, which causes your kidneys to produce less
Nocturia can be a symptom of a more serious
condition, such as diabetes or a UTI that could worsen or spread if left
untreated. Nocturia due to an underlying condition will usually stop when the
condition is successfully treated.
How Can Nocturia Be Prevented?
Nocturia can be a difficult and sometimes
embarrassing condition to live with, but there are steps you can take to lessen
its impact on your life.
Reducing the amount you drink before going to
bed can help prevent you from having to urinate at night. Avoiding drinks that
contain alcohol and caffeine may also help, as can urinating before you go to
bed. Some food items act as diuretics as well, like chocolate, spicy foods, and
artificial sweeteners. Kegel
exercises can help strengthen your pelvic muscles and
improve bladder control.
Pay close attention to what exacerbates your
symptoms so you can try to modify your habits accordingly. Some people find it
helpful to keep a diary of what they drink and when.
Because nocturia affects your sleep cycle, it
can lead to sleep deprivation, fatigue, dizziness, drowsiness, and depression,
if left untreated. Talk to your doctor to discuss which lifestyle changes and
treatment options can help you.