Definition & Overview

Urination is an important body function as it involves removing waste products from the body in the form of urine. However, if a person feels the need to urinate more frequently than what he or she is normally used to, it could be an indication of a problem in the urinary system.

Most people excrete 1 to 1.8 liters of urine daily, which is equivalent to around 5 to 8 cups. The kidneys produce urine as they filter blood to remove wastes and other substances. From the kidneys, urine passes through the ureters and is collected in the bladder. Once the bladder is full, the brain sends a signal to the sphincter muscles to contract and release the collected urine through the urethra and out of the body. Any problem that affects the urinary system and any of its part can result in frequent urination.

Cause of Condition

The need to urinate more frequently than usual can be a result of a number of conditions. The most common are:

  • Increased intake of fluids – Fluid intake is largely dependent on lifestyle. Those who are active in sports, exercise frequently, live in hot climates, or have physically demanding jobs tend to drink more fluids than those who have a more sedentary lifestyle. However, the amount of fluids a person consumes and releases will be likely the same amount daily. If, for some reason, a person drinks more than usual, the body will compensate for it and release more fluids resulting in frequent urination.

  • Medications – Medications, such as diuretics, are designed to force the kidneys to process more urine. Diuretics help the body get rid of excess water.

  • Diseases and disorders – Diabetes, prostate problems, urinary tract infections, interstitial cystitis, stroke, anxiety, and other neurological diseases are some of the most common causes of frequent urination.

  • Medical procedures – Certain medical procedures such as radiation therapy performed on the lower abdomen and/or pelvis area may also result in frequent urination.

  • Pregnancy – As the uterus grows, it places more pressure on the bladder, creating a need to urinate more frequently.

Key Symptoms

Frequent urination that is caused by diseases produces the following symptoms:

  • Blood in the urine
  • Pain during urination
  • Lower abdominal pain
  • Fever
  • Urine being excreted in dribbles instead of a steady flow
  • Reduced control of bladder functions

Who to See & Types of Treatment Available

Patients who urinate more frequently than they use to are advised to consult their primary care physician. Standard procedures such as initial interview about the symptoms, physical examination, and the review of the patient's medical history will be conducted. This is followed by a series of tests that include:

  • Urinalysis - to determine the presence of infections

  • Cystometry - a test performed to determine if the condition is caused by a problem with the bladder muscles or nerves

  • Cystoscopy - a procedure that involves inserting a tube with a lighted instrument and video camera into the bladder through the urethra to determine if the condition is caused by a problem in the urethra.

  • Ultrasonography – an imaging procedure to assess the overall condition of the urinary system

  • Neurological test – this is ordered by the diagnosing physician if he or she suspects that frequent urination is caused by a nerve disorder.

Treatment for frequent urination can range from a simple change in diet to using certain types of medications. If necessary, the doctor may recommend surgery as a last resort. Some of the most common medications used are:

  • Tolterodine
  • Oxybutynin
  • Darifenacin
  • Mirabegron
  • Trospium
  • Imipramine
  • Solifenacin

If the drugs mentioned above fail to improve the condition, the doctor may opt to inject Botox into the bladder muscles to force the muscles to relax, reducing the urge to urinate in the process. Surgical procedures are usually performed as the last resort. One of which is to implant a nerve stimulator underneath the skin to control the organs and muscles used in urination.

References:

  • Drake M, Abrams P. Overactive bladder. In: Wein AJ, ed. Campbell-Walsh Urology. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 66.

  • Zeidel ML. Obstructive uropathy. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 125.

  • Lentz GM. Urogynecology. Physiology of micturition, voiding dysfunction, urinary incontinence, urinary tract infections, and painful bladder syndrome. In: Lentz GM, Lobo RA, Gershenson DM, Katz VL, eds. Comprehensive Gynecology. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2012:chap 21.

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