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Frequent or urgent urination

Female urinary tract
Male urinary tract

Definition

Frequent urination means needing to urinate more often than usual. Urgent urination is a sudden, compelling urge to urinate, along with discomfort in your bladder.

A frequent need to urinate at night is called nocturia. Most people can sleep for 6 to 8 hours without having to urinate. Middle aged and older men often wake to urinate once in the early morning hours.

Alternative Names

Urgent urination; Urinary frequency or urgency

Causes

Together, frequent and urgent urination are classic signs of a urinary tract infection.

Diabetes, pregnancy, and prostate problems are other common causes of these symptoms.

Other causes include:

Drinking too much before bedtime, especially caffeine or alcohol, can cause frequent urination at nighttime. Frequent urination may also just be a habit.

Home Care

Follow the therapy recommended by your health care provider to treat the cause of your urinary frequency or urgency. It may help to keep a diary of the times and amounts of urine you void to bring with you to your health care provider.

In some cases, you may experience urinary incontinence for a period of time. You may need to take steps to protect your clothing and bedding.

For nighttime urination, avoid drinking too much fluid before going to bed. Reduce the amount of coffee, other caffeinated beverages, and alcohol you drink.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your health care provider right away if:

Also call your health care provider if:

What to Expect at Your Office Visit

Your health care provider will take a medical history and perform a physical examination. Medical history questions may include:

Tests that may be done include:

Treatment depends on the cause of the urgency and frequency. Antibiotics and medicine may be prescribed to reduce your discomfort, if needed.

References

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

Zeidel ML. Obstructive uropathy. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. 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.


Review Date: 6/18/2012
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington; and Scott Miller, MD, Urologist in private practice in Atlanta, Georgia. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.