Frequent Urination 101: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

Frequent urination can be a symptom of a more serious medical condition. Learn more about the causes, differences between gender and the treatment available in Malaysia.

by Katherine Khaw

Urination is a daily activity that people experience in order to remove waste fluids. Urine contains water, uric acid, urea, and toxins – these are expelled from the body once the bladder is considerably full. On average, a person urinates 6-7 times a day. A person is deemed to have frequent urination if they are going to the toilet more than 7 times in the same day, having consumed 2 litres of fluids.

Although drinking more fluids may be a reason for frequent urination, sometimes there may be underlying causes that can be problematic to your health. Therefore, it is important to glean the symptoms, causes and treatments available.

Symptoms of Frequent Urination

Evidently, the main symptom of frequent urination would be needing to urinate more often without having additional urine to dispel. As such, this may cause the person discomfort and agitation, incurring lifestyle disruptions.

Depending on what may be the source of frequent urination, other symptoms as below may occur:

  • Dribbling after urinating
  • Abdominal pain
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Nocturia (otherwise experiencing frequent urination at night)
  • Pain during urination
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Unusual urine colour

Causes of Frequent Urination

Frequent urination may be caused by a variety of underlying conditions. Mostly, they may come from diseases affecting the urinary tract. This would cover the kidneys, the tubes connecting the kidneys to the bladder (ureters), the bladder, and the duct through which urine flows from the bladder out of the body (urethra).

These are the possible causes of frequent urination:

Diabetes

In this case, frequent urination in large amounts is often a sign of diabetes (both Type 1 and Type 2). This is due to the body trying to get rid of unused glucose through the urine.

Pregnancy

As the fetus forms in the womb, the growing uterus may place pressure on the bladder area. Thus, this incurs frequent urination from the early weeks of pregnancy.

Prostate problems

A prostate that is enlarged may press against the urethra. This would block the flow of urine and cause the bladder wall to be irritated. When this happens, the bladder would begin to contract ahead of time (before being filled).

Interstitial cystitis

If you have this condition, it would be characterised by pain in the bladder and pelvic region. Then, it is paired with the urgent need for urination.

Diuretic use

Diuretics, otherwise known informally as “water pills”, are used to treat high blood pressure or fluid buildup. As it is meant to assist in flushing excessive fluid from the body, it would inadvertently lead to frequent urination.

Stroke or other neurological diseases

When nerves in the body that supply the bladder are damaged, this can lead to issues with bladder function. Then, this would include frequent and random urges to urinate.

Hypercalcemia

Hypercalcemia is a condition where the calcium levels in your blood are above normal. This may be incurred by overactive parathyroid glands, other illnesses like tuberculosis and sarcoidosis, inactivity or cancer. Aside from frequent urination, hypercalcemia has other symptoms like excessive thirst, upset stomach, nausea, bone and muscle weakness, brain and heart issues.

Diabetes insipidus

This condition is not related to Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, albeit sharing similar signs and symptoms. Meanwhile, it is a rare condition where the body makes a lot of urine that is colourless or odourless.

This list is not extensive about the causes of frequent urination. There may be simpler answers such as lifestyle, in which one may drink a lot of fluids, especially those containing caffeine or alcohol. This can interrupt the sleep cycle at night with urges to urinate. Anxiety is also another possible factor.

Differences between Men and Women

Generally, urinary tract infections (UTIs) are more common for people with a vagina as the female urethra is shorter. Thus, bacteria have less distance to travel to the urinary tract and cause infections to occur. UTIs lead to frequent urination, aside from women-related conditions such as pregnancy, fibroids, low estrogen levels (due to menopause) and ovarian cancer.

For men, conditions that affect the prostate could cause frequent urination. As such, conditions like benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), prostatitis and prostate cancer are included.

Age is a related factor to frequent urination. Nocturia, the need to wake up several times at night to urinate, is more common as one age. In the 50 – 60 age range, both men and women experience nocturia at the same rate.

When To See A Doctor

When frequent urination is interrupting your lifestyle and is accompanied by other symptoms like fever, pains, chills, thirst, bodily discharge and various discomforts, it is advisable to seek medical attention. Some underlying conditions such as kidney infection would require intervention, otherwise risking permanent damage to the organs. Early treatment would be able to resolve infections and prevent impending complications.

Upon meeting with the doctor, you may be asked the following questions:

  • Are you on any medication?
  • Are you experiencing other symptoms aside from frequent urination?
  • Is this problem persisting only during the day or also at nighttime?
  • Is your urine darker or lighter than usual?
  • Do you consume alcohol or caffeinated beverages?
  • When did these symptoms begin?
  • Have you experienced any unexpected leaking of urine?

After which, the doctor may carry out the following tests:

Blood tests

Blood tests can be carried out to check for kidney function, electrolytes and blood sugar levels.

Urinalysis

This will incur a microscopic examination of urine. Then, a number of tests are carried out to detect and measure compounds that pass through the urine.

Cystometry

This is a test that measures the pressure inside the bladder, in order to assess how well the bladder is working. It is done to determine whether a muscle or nerve problem may cause issues with how well the bladder holds or releases urine.

Cystoscopy

This is a test that allows the doctor to check the inside of the bladder and urethra. A thin, lighted instrument called a cystoscopy would be used.

Neurological tests

This would be conducted if the doctor wishes to confirm or rule out the presence of a nerve disorder.

Ultrasonography

Imaging tests using sound waves may be used to depict an internal body structure, and to pinpoint any impending issues.

Aside from these tests, there may be STI tests, X-rays or CT scans involved.

Treatment Options

Having covered the symptoms, causes and when to see the doctor, it is essential to know your treatment options for frequent urination. The options may vary due to the underlying problem causing frequent urination.

Among the treatment options are:

Bladder retraining

This treatment involves increasing the intervals between using the bathroom, over a time of approximately 12 weeks. This would retrain the bladder to hold urine longer and urinate less frequently.

Diet modification

Some foods may act as a diuretic or irritate your bladder. As such, it is advisable to avoid such foods for the time being. These may include caffeine, alcohol, fizzy drinks, tomato-based products, chocolate, artificial sweeteners and spicy foods. Meanwhile, be mindful to eat high-fibre foods as constipation can worsen the symptoms of overactive bladder syndrome.

Fluid intake

Monitor your fluid intake to avoid constipation and over-concentration of urine. Refrain from drinking water just before bedtime may incur nighttime urination.

Kegel exercises

These are exercises concentrated to strengthen the muscles around one’s bladder and urethra. This would improve bladder control and reduce urinary urgency and frequency. Exercising your pelvic muscles can make a difference in one’s bladder control.

Biofeedback therapy

With this method, you can learn how your pelvic muscles work and how to better control them. Usually, this is combined with Kegel exercises to enable increased awareness of one’s body function.

Sometimes treatment may include drugs, even Botox, which can be injected to relax the bladder, increase the storage capacity and reduce episodes of leakage. Several types of surgery are also possible.

There are also home care and home remedies that can be carried out to ease the treatment of the problem.

Home care precautions

First, compile a voiding diary. This would encapsulate your experience of the times you urinate and the amount of urine produced. This information would assist your healthcare provider. Otherwise, in the case of possible leakage, take the steps to protect your clothing and bedding.

Consumption of herbal treatments

Before embarking on herbal supplements or treatments, be sure to check with the doctor for clearance. These may interact with existing medication and cause unintended side effects. Among the list are:

Chinese herbal blends – Gosha-jinki-gan (GJG), a blend of 10 traditional herbs, is concluded to be able to inhibit the bladder and improve daytime frequency. Another blend, hachimi-jio-gan (HE), has undergone preliminary studies, indicating that there may be an effect on bladder muscle contraction.

Ganoderma lucidum (GL) – Otherwise known as lingzhi mushroom, this extract is capable of curing many ailments such as hepatitis, hypertension and cancers.

Corn silk (zea mays) – It is the waste material after cultivating the corn crop, but it is often used for many ailments, including bedwetting and bladder irritation. It may help with restoring membranes in the urinary tract.

Capsaicin – These are found in the fleshy part of chilli peppers. These are used to treat pelvic pain syndrome, which may cause overactive bladder and frequent urination.

Consumption of bladder-friendly food and drinks

There are foods friendly to one’s bladder, be it anti-inflammatory or high in antioxidants. Examples are as follows:

  • Pumpkin seeds – Packed with omega-3 fatty acids, they have anti-inflammatory properties. Consumption of pumpkin seed oil is able to improve urinary function.
  • Kohki tea – It is a sweet tea filled with antioxidants. Initial studies found that this tea has a significant effect on protecting the bladder.
  • Soy milk – Less likely to irritate compared to cow’s or goat’s milk
  • Juices – Remember to opt for the less acidic types, such as apple or pear
  • Plain water

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References
  1. Cherney, K. (2019). What Home Remedies Work for an Overactive Bladder? [Article]. Retrieved 14 June 2022, from https://www.healthline.com/health/overactive-bladder/home-remedies .
  2. Cristiano, C. (2022). Understanding Frequent Urination [Article]. Retrieved 13 June 2022, from https://www.healthline.com/health/overactive-bladder/frequent-urination-women .
  3. Dunkin, M.A. (2021). Frequent Urination: Causes and Treatments [Article]. Retrieved 13 June 2022, from https://www.webmd.com/urinary-incontinence-oab/frequent-urination-causes-and-treatments .
  4. Mayo Clinic (2020). Frequent urination [Website]. Retrieved 13 June 2022, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/frequent-urination/basics/causes/sym-20050712 .
  5. Medline Plus (2020). Frequent or urgent urination [Article]. Retrieved 15 June 2022, from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003140.htm .
  6. Paddock, C. (2021). Why do I have to pee all the time? [Article]. Retrieved 13 June 2022, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/70782 .

 

About the Writer
Katherine Khaw
Katherine is an avid reader, finding joy in halls of words. Aside from the imagination wandering in worlds not here, she enjoys stargazing and gardening. In her heart of hearts, she aspires to be a writer, and to be more than mere dust.
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