What is nocturia?
If you find yourself waking up to use the bathroom more than once during the night (or during your main sleep period if that isn’t at night), this is called nocturia.
Nocturia is not considered a condition as such, but rather a symptom of an underlying issue. For some people, nocturia is a symptom of how their kidneys produce urine, or how their bladder stores it. For some people, their nocturia symptoms could be caused by heart problems or sleep disorders, in which case they would need to see a different doctor to treat the cause of their symptoms.
Nocturia is very common and affects both men and women of all ages, even though it is sometimes thought of as a problem that only older people experience. But not every instance of nocturia is a problem that needs to be treated.
Nocturia can negatively affect your life in more ways than just being woken in the night. Not getting enough sleep, or having your sleep disrupted can lead to a decrease in physical and mental health, comfort, productivity, and quality of life. For all these reasons you should not be reluctant to discuss your symptoms with your doctor.
What causes nocturia?
Your doctor may order a series of tests to understand what causes your symptoms. This is called an investigation in order to make a diagnosis. This is because nocturia may be a symptom of other medical conditions.
First, the doctor or nurse will take your medical history and do a physical examination. If needed, other tests will be performed, depending on:
- your age
- the impact the symptoms have on your daily life
- other medical conditions you may suffer from (in particular heart, kidney neurological or psychiatric conditions)
- your current medications
Based on the results of your examination and tests, your doctor will identify the cause of your nocturia and recommend the treatment.
How is nocturia diagnosed?
Your doctor will ask you questions about your health and any medical issues you have had in the past, as well as giving you a check-up.
You will be asked to fill out a bladder diary each day, which involves completing a simple chart that records how much fluid you drink and how much urine you pass during the day and night. This will be used at your next appointment to help your doctor to make a diagnosis. For example, some causes of nocturia can cause people to pass a smaller amount of urine at night, even though they have been woken up by the need to go to the toilet.
You may also be asked to complete a questionnaire about your nocturia symptoms and if/how they affect your quality of life. This can help your doctor get more information about your symptoms and how they are impacting your life, so as to make the right diagnosis.
After the initial assessment, you may need to have medical tests to investigate other possible causes of your nocturia. If it turns out that your nocturia is caused by something other than your urinary system, then you may need to be referred to another type of doctor.