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Frequent Or Urgent Urination

Frequent urination describes the need to urinate more often than usual. However, there is not really a clear definition of "frequent" when it comes to how often you urinate.

The key to deciding if you have issues with frequent urination is whether the need to urinate often is creating challenges in your life. You may also consider whether you feel anxiety when you are not near a restroom.

Urgent urination describes an overwhelming need to get to a restroom immediately. It may be accompanied by pain or discomfort in the bladder or urinary tract.

You may have urgent urination issues if you sometimes can’t make it to the bathroom in time or if the urge to urinate comes on very suddenly.

Frequent and urgent urination issues often occur together. You may feel the need to urinate often, and the urge comes on suddenly.

Common causes of frequent or urgent urination

Urinary tract infections are the most common cause of frequent or urgent urination. Other causes include:

  • drinking too much liquid
  • drinking caffeinated or alcoholic beverages
  • diabetes
  • pregnancy, especially in the third trimester, when there is pressure on the bladder
  • prostate enlargement or infection
  • anxiety
  • diuretics
  • interstitial cystitis, a chronic infection in the bladder
  • overactive bladder
  • vaginal infection

Less common causes of frequent or urgent urination include:

  • stroke or other nervous system disorders
  • tumor
  • bladder cancer
  • radiation therapy to the pelvic area
  • damage or injury to the urinary tract
  • diverticulitis

There are also other possible causes for frequent urination. It can disrupt your sleep, which is a condition called nocturia. It commonly occurs as you get older because your body stops producing a hormone that prevents nighttime urination as you age.

The bladder also loses elasticity as you get older. This makes it difficult to hold urine for extended periods of time.  

When to seek treatment for frequent or urgent urination

It’s possible that frequent or urgent urination could be normal for you if you don’t have other symptoms. However, in most cases, frequent or urgent urination signals an underlying health condition.

Visit your doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • urinary problems are affecting your lifestyle
  • blood in your urine
  • urine is unusually cloudy or has an unusual smell
  • fever, chills, or fatigue
  • vomiting
  • pain in your abdomen or sides
  • sudden weight loss
  • increased appetite or thirst
  • discharge from your penis or vagina

You should also consider making an appointment with your doctor if you wake up more than three times every night to urinate.

Relieving symptoms of frequent or urgent urination

The treatment plan for frequent or urgent urination is largely dependent on the cause. Antibiotics can help treat infections. Lifestyle changes such as monitoring liquid consumption and urine output or adjusting medications can help some people.

Your doctor will develop a treatment plan to address your specific situation. 

Content licensed from:

Written by: Amber Erickson Gabbey
Medically reviewed on: Apr 15, 2016: University of Illinois-Chicago, College of Medicine

This feature is for informational purposes only and should not be used to replace the care and information received from your health care provider. Please consult a health care professional with any health concerns you may have.
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