Nocturia: Nighttime Incontinence

Manifesting itself as an interruption to a good night’s sleep, nocturia wakes a person from a deep slumber to go to the bathroom. Waking once during the night to go to the bathroom can be considered normal, but when a person finds themselves getting out of bed multiple times to visit the toilet, they are suffering from nocturia: nightime incontinence.

This condition is most common in older people, and frequently as a person ages they may find that they have the urge to urinate during the night even more frequently than during the day. There are normal changes that are related to the process of ageing, like too much urine output. This condition can be exacerbated by drinking fluids just before going to bed at night. Other conditions found more commonly in older people, like congestive heart failure, can cause the body to retain fluid. Sleep disorders are also a contributing factor to nocturia, and it is much more likely for someone suffering from insomnia to get up to visit the bathroom throughout the night than someone who is a sound sleeper.

When reporting this problem to a health care physician, be prepared to let them know how often the urge to urinate during the night is occurring. Also be prepared to lay out a detailed medical history, and include any current conditions and medications that are being taken. Medications can often be a contributing factor to nocturia. For example, diuretics, which are often prescribed to heart patients, frequently cause some type of incontinence problem in older adults. Make sure to include non prescription drugs in the list as well as any drugs that have been prescribed for health problems. The doctor will also want to know eating and drinking habits, especially before bedtime; so it is a good idea to keep a log of eating, drinking and voiding habits for at least a week prior to the doctor visit. The doctor will perform a thorough medical examination, and they will most likely take a urine sample and blood samples for additional testing.

There are foods that commonly aggravate the bladder, and most doctors will recommend that a patient avoid these foods to help reduce their symptoms. Foods like alcohol, tea and coffee are common causes for bladder irritation, and when consumed close to bedtime, the nighttime incontinence problem is amplified. If medications that a person is taking for another condition, like diuretics for the heart, are contributing to the problem, your doctor may recommend switching to another medication that does not cause nighttime incontinence as a side effect. Another option with medication is simply to take it earlier in the day, so that any side effects have worn off well before bedtime.

Working with a physician to manage a problem with nocturia is recommended, because a doctor can rule out any other, more serious underlying conditions, which may be causing the problem.

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