Everyone knows staying well hydrated is one of the easiest health habits to maintain. But if you’re guzzling liter after liter of water during the day, you’re also bound to make frequent trips to the bathroom. To some extent, this is good for you, as urinating flushes out your waste. But you may be wondering what exactly is excessive urination? And if all the peeing is bothering you, what can you do about it?
If you’re out of your usual zone for trips to the bathroom, you may need to find out what changes in your lifestyle are causing you to have frequent urges, or if it’s painful, see your doctor for an exam.
If you’re hitting the bathroom every hour or so, your bladder may be trying to tell you something. If you’re healthy, urinating more than eight times a day and more than once a night is considered abnormal, says Zamin Brahmbhat, MD, a urologist at Orlando Health.
It varies, though—if you drink a lot of water or other fluids, it’s not unusual to urinate up to 10 times per day, adds Sunita Posina, MD, an NYC-area internist. And some medications, such as diuretics for high blood pressure, can make people “go” even more.
However, for the most part six to eight times is the sweet spot and in the normal range.
“People with a ‘normal’ urinary bladder are able to ‘hold’ it for a reasonable amount of time, without the sudden urge to urinate if they are not consuming too much fluid,” says Dr Posina.
Here are nine possible causes of what could be causing frequent urination.
You may have an overactive bladder.
If you constantly need to pee, and can’t really hold it, know this – you’re not alone. In fact, overactive bladder (OAB) affects about 30 percent of men in the United States, says Kerem Bortesen MD, PhD of NYC Surgical Associates. “While men at a younger age (18-29) can be affected, the incidence increases fourfold in men over 60,” he explains. Men with prostate problems or neurological diseases such as stroke and multiple sclerosis are also at greater risk of the condition, he says.
So what’s going on, really? When you suffer from OAB, you lack the ability to hold urine. “You may experience ‘urge incontinence’ which is an uncontrollable loss or even spillage of urine,” adds Dr Posina. OAB can leave you tossing and turning with frequent trips to the bathroom throughout the night.
“People with OAB often get up at night to go to the bathroom, and this frequent contraction of the bladder muscles causes a sudden, strong need to urinate, even when the bladder is not completely full,” Dr. Bortesen says.
You may have a urinary tract infection (UTI).
While UTIs are often thought of as a female-oriented condition, men can also get UTIs. And UTIs can cause symptoms of overactive bladder, Dr. Brahmbat says.
Most men get a urinary tract infection because of urinary incontinence, but it can also be caused by constipation, recent ureteral surgery, kidney stones, or unprotected anal sex, he says. (Men with short urethras are more susceptible to this condition.)
“Because the anus contains a lot of bacteria, the main one being E.coli, if you’re having unprotected sex, these worms can track down the urethra and cause an infection,” he says. “The infection irritates the bladder and basically irritates the bladder wall, which makes you pass more often.”
Unlike OAB, the symptoms of a UTI will be sudden and short-lived. Antibiotics can help clear up most urinary tract infections.
You may have interstitial cystitis.
Interstitial cystitis, also known as “pinfull bladder syndrome,” is a chronic condition that can cause frequent urination, as well as pressure and pain in the bladder, Dr. Bortesen says. While a UTI can be caused by an infection and can be easily treated with antibiotics, interstitial cystitis is a long-term condition that cannot be easily treated.
“People with this condition feel a sense of urgency and urinate less than most people,” Dr. Bortesen says. “This condition comes from an immune response in the bladder to an irritant in the urine that damages the bladder, causing a feeling of urgency, as well as bladder spasms.”
Unfortunately, IC can be difficult to diagnose, as it is often undiagnosed or misdiagnosed as something else. “The diagnosis and treatment of this condition is similar to overactive bladder,” he says. Because IC is considered an autoimmune condition, some immunosuppressive drugs, such as cyclosporine, have been used successfully to treat it.
You may have diabetes.
Frequent urination is an early sign of diabetes, as the body tries to get rid of unused glucose through urine, says Christopher Hollingsworth, MD, of NYC Surgical Associates.
Because diabetes causes excess sugar in the blood, the kidneys are forced to take it in, and if they can’t keep it up, that excess sugar is excreted through urine, causing you to run to the bathroom. When you’re urinating often, you’re losing fluid, forcing your body to compensate by reaching for fluid in your tissues, which can lead to dehydration.
Because excessive thirst is common in diabetics, you may be increasing your daily water intake early on, causing you to urinate more. And if you’re urinating more often, you’re only increasing your dehydration level. Thus, the cycle repeats itself.
You may have an enlarged prostate.
If you’re having trouble getting a steady stream going, it’s likely linked to an underlying prostate condition called benign prostatic hyperplasia, or an enlarged prostate. At first, you may notice “a decreased urinary stream, where your urine doesn’t come out as forcefully, and it doesn’t hit the wall like it used to,” says Hollingsworth.
In fact, “after a while it can take longer to empty the bladder completely, and it can actually injure the muscles of the bladder wall, causing further bladder distension and damage,” he says. When the condition reaches its more advanced stages, it can be difficult to even begin to urinate, and that’s bad news, because you have to pass urine more often, he says.
Fortunately, alpha-blockers, antihistamines, and amitriptyline (an antidepressant) can help as possible treatments, he says. You can also try prostate artery embolization, a non-invasive procedure that can help shrink an enlarged prostate gland. But be warned: While it’s safe and effective, side effects can include blood in the urine, semen, or rectum, along with bladder pain, Dr. Bortesen says.
You may have a rare medical condition.
In rare cases, frequent urination can be a symptom of bladder cancer, says Dr Brahmbhat. Cancer can irritate your bladder, causing increased urination. “The only way to be sure you don’t have cancer is to get yourself checked by a urologist, but bladder cancer is not common, so don’t panic—you probably don’t have it,” he says. It’s also worth noting that other symptoms, such as blood in the urine, are usually present with bladder cancer, so if you’re just urinating a lot and not experiencing any other symptoms, it’s nothing to worry about.
Frequent urination can also be a byproduct of a stroke. “Sometimes when men have a stroke, it can cause nerve damage to the nerves that go to the bladder. It can either go too far or cause retention where you can’t urinate,” he says.
You may be dehydrated.
It may seem counterintuitive, but when your body is losing fluid, your kidneys can feel the pressure and want to leave. Also, if you’re trying to replace fluids quickly because you’re dehydrated, you naturally need to urinate more often, according to the Cleveland Clinic. And if you add coffee and alcohol to the mix, you’ll likely have to go even further, as both are diuretics.
You are anxious or stressed.
Do you find yourself often running to the bathroom while preparing for a big work presentation, or perhaps before participating in an endurance event you’ve spent months training for? In this case your frequent urination may be due to nerves or stress, and if you have been drinking coffee leading up to the big moment, or drinking alcohol to cope with related stress, they are probably contributing to their diuretic effects.
You drink a lot of water.
Believe it or not, it is possible to over-hydrate, because you can drink more water than your kidneys can remove. This can lead to water intoxication as a result of too much diluted salt and other electrolytes in your body. You can also develop hyponatremia, a condition in which your body’s sodium level is too low, which can be life-threatening, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Frequent urination can be a sign that you are drinking too much water, especially if your urine is colorless rather than the usual pale yellow.
How to pee (as much as possible)
Good news? Dr. For many of these conditions, you can alleviate symptoms with a few lifestyle improvements, Bortesen says. “Urologists recommend that patients with overactive bladder keep a bladder diary to track bathroom trips and any urine leakage,” he says. Avoiding certain food and drink triggers such as caffeine, artificial sweeteners, alcohol, soda, citrus fruits, tomatoes, chocolate and spicy foods may also help. These triggers are highly acidic in nature, which can irritate the bladder. (Why Your Poo Burns After Eating Spicy Foods.)
To reduce frequent urination, men can also practice regular urination. This means you follow a daily bathroom schedule. Instead of going when you feel the urge, you go at set times during the day, Dr. Posina says.
You can also do Kegel exercises to reduce urinary frequency. They are usually done halfway through the urethra to stop or slow the flow of urine. “Kegel exercises can strengthen the pelvic floor and relax the bladder,” Dr. Bortesen says.
Finally, realize that it shouldn’t be impossible to consume enough fluids without constantly running to the bathroom. If you’re an active guy consuming around the 3 to 4 liters per day recommended for men, good for you, but try your best to empty it throughout the day instead of chugging whole bottles at once.
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