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Incontinence & Overactive Bladder Health Center

Frequent Urination: Causes and Treatments

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Diagnosing the Cause of Frequent Urination

If urinary frequency interferes with your lifestyle or is accompanied by other symptoms such as fever, back or side pain, vomiting, chills, increased appetite or thirst, fatigue, bloody or cloudy urine, or a discharge from the penis or vagina, it's important to see your doctor.

To diagnose the cause of frequent urination, your doctor will perform a physical exam and take a medical history, asking questions such as the following:

  • Are you taking any medications?
  • Are you experiencing other symptoms?
  • Do you have the problem only during the day or also at night?
  • Are you drinking more than usual?
  • Is your urine darker or lighter than usual?
  • Do you drink alcohol or caffeinated beverages?

Depending on the findings of the physical exam and medical history, your doctor may order tests, including:

Urinalysis. The microscopic examination of urine that also involves a number of tests to detect and measure various compounds that pass through the urine

Cystometry. A test that measures the pressure inside of the bladder to see how well the bladder is working; cystometry is done to determine if a muscle or nerve problem may be causing problems with how well the bladder holds or releases urine.

Cystoscopy. A test that allows your doctor to look at the inside of the bladder and urethra using a thin, lighted instrument called a cystoscope

Neurological Tests. Diagnostic tests and procedures that help the doctor confirm or rule out the presence of a nerve disorder

Ultrasonography. A diagnostic imaging test used to visualize an internal body structure

Treatment for Frequent Urination

Treatment for frequent urination will address the underlying problem that is causing it. For example, if diabetes is the cause, treatment will involve keeping blood sugar levels under control. 

The treatment for overactive bladder should begin with behavioral therapies, such as:

  • Bladder retraining. This involves increasing the intervals between using the bathroom over the course of about 12 weeks. This helps retrain your bladder to hold urine longer and to urinate less frequently.
  • Diet modification. You should avoid any food that appears to irritate your bladder or acts as a diuretic. These may include caffeine, alcohol, carbonated drinks, tomato-based products, chocolate, artificial sweeteners, and spicy foods. It's also important to eat high-fiber foods, because constipation may worsen the symptoms of overactive bladder syndrome.
  • Monitoring fluid intake. You should drink enough to prevent constipation and over-concentration of urine, but you should avoid drinking just before bedtime, which can lead to nighttime urination.
  • Kegel exercises. These exercises help strengthen the muscles around the bladder and urethra to improve bladder control and reduce urinary urgency and frequency. Exercising pelvic muscles for five minutes three times a day can make a difference in bladder control.

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