Getting up every night to use the toilet? Often more than once? Waking once or more during the night to urinate is referred to as nocturia. As we get older, we seem to get up more frequently.
Some causes are gender specific. For example, nocturia in men is often linked to an enlarged prostate that blocks the flow of urine from the bladder. Such men fail to fully empty their bladder during the day, sending themselves to bed with a partially full bladder that soon sends a wake-up call to be emptied. This is helpful to understand because getting the prostate enlargement diagnosed and treated may allow the symptoms of nocturia to all but disappear. The onset of nocturia in women is generally linked to the consequences from childbirth, menopause, and even pelvic organ prolapse.
It is often difficult to separate the cause of awakening from the tendency to get out of bed, once awakened, to use the toilet. If the problem is at least partly due to sleep disorders including sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome, these problems need to be investigated and treated separately. Sometimes nocturia is a symptom of a greater medical problem that alters the way in which the body functions during sleep. If the problem is excessive nighttime urine production, the first step is to look for the cause. Targets include:
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease/Congestive heart failure
- Vascular disease/Varicose veins/Swelling due to fluid accumulation in lower extremities
There may be steps you can take on your own (to read more, visit http://www.nafc.org/bladder-bowel-health/nocturia/)
- Eliminating caffeine and alcohol from the diet, especially 3 – 4 hours prior to bedtime
- Taking prescribed diuretic medications about 6 hours before bedtime
- Minimizing all fluid intake 2 – 3 hours before bedtime, including foods with high water content
- Avoiding strenuous exercise within 3 hours of retiring for bed
- Avoiding engaging mental activity or stressful dialogue within several hours of bedtime
- Turning off the television
- Darkening the bedroom and sleeping with blinders
- Kicking your pet out of the bed!
Of course……fall prevention is of major concern with nocturia. That’s the next blog just around the corner.