Updated: 2019, Jun 4

What Is Nocturia And What Are Its Symptoms, Causes And Treatments?

By - Reviewed by CHD Team
Frequent Urination at Night

It is not uncommon for people to urinate at night, but in some people, this nighttime urination can be quite excessive and, thus, impair their sleep. Lack of sleep increases stress levels while draining your energy, productivity, and affecting the overall quality of life. The problem with frequent urination is called nocturia, and to tackle it successfully it is important to know the causes and symptoms surrounding this health issue. Providing useful information about nocturia is the primary goal of this article.

What is Nocturia?

Nocturia or nocturnal polyuria is a medical term used to describe frequent urination at night where the nighttime urine output is greater than 20% of the daily total in young adults and 33% in older adults. There are some exceptions, though. For example, people with diabetes and those who’s sleeping patterns vary greatly from the normal eight-hour nighttime pattern. In these cases, urination at night doesn’t necessarily indicate the person has nocturia.

Generally speaking, your urine output decreases during the night due to a corresponding increase in secretion of ADH (antidiuretic hormone). As secretion of this hormone increases, it leads to elevated resorption of water from the renal tubule, thus leading to lower volumes of concentrated urine.

So, getting up frequently during the night to go to the bathroom usually indicates the presence of nocturia, but also it means there’s an underlying medical condition that contributes to it.

According to the study published in the Journal of Urology, nocturia is present in all age groups and both genders, but older individuals are at a higher risk.

Nocturia Diet

Causes of Nocturia

Causes of frequent urination at night are numerous ranging from medical conditions to lifestyle choices. Here are the most common causes of this health problem:

1. Medical Conditions

One of the most common causes of nocturia is a urinary tract infection (UTI) or bladder infection. People who experience these infections also report frequent burning sensations and urgent urinations throughout both day and night. Besides these, other medical conditions that contribute to nocturia include:

It is also important to mention that some neurological disorders like Parkinson’s or multiple sclerosis (MS) can cause nocturia. Also, it is not uncommon for individuals with organ failure e.g. heart or liver to experience frequent urination at night, as well.

2. Medication

Nocturia can also be a side effect of some medications, particularly if you’re taking diuretics (water pills) to regulate high blood pressure.

Nocturia Medication

3. Lifestyle Choice

Besides medical conditions, lifestyle choices particularly excessive fluid intake contribute to this problem. Caffeinated beverages and alcohol are diuretics, meaning that intake of these drinks promotes the production of urine in your body. Consuming these beverages during the day usually leads to nighttime trips to the toilet.

4. Sleep Apnea

What most people don’t know is that nocturia can be caused by obstructive sleep apnea. This can happen even when your bladder isn’t full.

5. Pregnancy

Frequent urination at night can be one of the earliest signs of pregnancy, but it also occurs in later stages when the womb presses against the bladder.

Symptoms of Nocturia

Now that you know the most common causes of nocturia, it’s time to discuss symptoms, which include the following:

  • Accompanying pain, in some cases
  • Besides excessive urination, it is also frequent, meaning you have to get up and go to bathroom a few times during the night
  • Cloudy urine
  • Foul-smelling urine
  • Polyuria – you produce a big amount of urine a day (more than 2 liters)
  • Reduced urine
  • Sleep deprivation resulting from frequent trips to the bathroom
  • Urinary urgency or the need to go to the bathroom even though sometimes there’s not much “result”
  • You produce more urine at night than your bladder is able to hold
  • Your body produces a large volume of urine during the night

While in some people nocturia can occur from time to time, others experience this problem regularly. Most patients feel embarrassed to talk about this issue, but consulting your doctor is strongly recommended.

Symptoms of Nocturia

How is Nocturia Treated?

Once your doctor makes a diagnosis, he/she will recommend adequate treatment based on the cause. For example, if nocturia is a side effect of medication your physician might suggest to take them earlier. In cases where frequent nighttime urination is caused by some medical problem, managing the underlying health condition will also relieve nocturia as well.

Nocturia treatment can sometimes include medications like anticholinergic drugs which lessen the symptoms of an overactive bladder. Your doctor may also prescribe desmopressin, which sends a message to kidneys to produce less urine.


Nocturia is a health problem indicated by frequent trips to the bathroom during the night. If left untreated, nocturia can severely impair a person’s sleep cycle. Sleep deprivation has a negative impact on your quality of life. Luckily, it’s possible to treat nocturia by addressing the underlying medical problem, taking medications, but it’s important not to feel ashamed and schedule an appointment to see your doctor.

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