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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, strong urge to urinate. This causes a discomfort in your bladder. Urgent urination makes it difficult to delay using the toilet.

A frequent need to urinate at night is called nocturia. Most people can sleep for 6 to 8 hours without having to urinate.

Alternative Names

Urgent urination; Urinary frequency or urgency; Urgency-frequency syndrome; Overactive bladder (OAB) syndrome; Urge syndrome

Causes

Common causes of these symptoms are:

Less common causes include:

Home Care

Follow the advice of your health care provider to treat the cause of the problem.

It may help to write down the times when you urinate and the amount of urine you produce. Bring this record to your visit with the provider. This is called a voiding diary.

In some cases, you may have problems controlling urine (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. Cut down on the amount of liquids you drink that contain alcohol or caffeine.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your provider right away if:

Also call your provider if:

What to Expect at Your Office Visit

Your provider will take a medical history and do a physical exam.

Tests that may be done include:

Treatment depends on the cause of the urgency and frequency. You may need to take antibiotics and medicine to ease your discomfort.

References

Drake MJ. Overactive bladder. In: Wein AJ, Kavoussi LR, Partin AW, Peters CA, eds. Campbell-Walsh Urology. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 76.

Zeidel ML. Obstructive uropathy. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 123.


Review Date: 5/23/2016
Reviewed By: Jennifer Sobol, DO, urologist with the Michigan Institute of Urology, West Bloomfield, MI. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.