If you’re guzzling liter after liter of water during the day, you’re bound to take frequent trips to the bathroom. To some degree, this is good for you, because urinating literally flushes out your waste. But just how much is too much peeing?
If you're outside your normal realm for trips to the bathroom, you may need to figure out what changed in your lifestyle that could be giving you the urge so often, or if that's elusive, see your doctor for an exam.
If you’re hitting the bathroom every hour or so, your bladder might be trying to tell you something. Jamin Brahmbhatt, M.D., a urologist with Orlando Health, says if you're otherwise healthy, peeing more frequently than eight times a day and more than once at night could be viewed as abnormal.
It does vary though—if you’re drinking a lot of water or other liquids, it’s not irregular to urinate up to 10 times per day, adds Sunitha Posina, MD, NYC-area internist. And certain medications like diuretics for high blood pressure may cause people to “go” more, too.
Yet, for the most part six to eight times is the sweet spot and in the normal range.
“People who have ‘normal’ bladders are usually able to ‘hold it’ for a reasonable amount of time without the urge to urinate coming on all of a sudden unless they have just consumed a large amount of fluid,” says Dr. Posina.
Here's what could be going on to cause the frequent urination.
You might have an overactive bladder.
If you constantly need to pee, and really can't hold it in, know this—you’re not alone. In fact, overactive bladder (OAB) affects about 30% of men in the United States, says Kerem Bortecen MD, PhD of NYC Surgical Associates. "While men at a younger age (18-29) can be affected, the prevalence sharply increases four fold among men older than age 60,” he explains. Men with prostate problems or neurologic diseases, such as stroke and multiple sclerosis are more prone to this condition as well, he says.
So what’s going on, exactly? When you suffer from OAB, you lack the ability to hold urine in. “You may experience ‘urge incontinence’ which is an uncontrollable loss or spillage of urine, too,” Dr. Posina adds. OAB might leave you tossing and turning, with frequent trips to the bathroom throughout the night.
“People with OAB tend to wake up frequently at night to go the bathroom, and this frequent contraction of bladder muscles causes a sudden, strong need to urinate even when the bladder is not completely full,” says Dr. Bortecen.
You might have a urinary tract infection (UTI).
While UTIs are most often thought of as a female-oriented condition, men can get UTIs too. And a UTI can lead to symptoms of an overactive bladder, says Dr. Brahmbatt.
Most men get bladder infections because they are not peeing as often as they should, but they can also arise from constipation, recent surgeries in the urinary tract, kidney stones, or having unprotected anal sex, he says. (Men with shorter urethras are more susceptible to this condition.)
“Because the anus has tons of bacteria, the main one being E.coli, if you are having unprotected sex, then these bugs can track up into the urethra and cause infections,” he says. “The infection irritates the bladder and basically angers the bladder wall, which makes you go more often."
Unlike OAB, the symptoms of a UTI will be sudden and short-lived. Antibiotics can help clear up most urinary tract infections.
You might have interstitial cystitis.
Interstitial cystitis, also known as “painful bladder syndrome,” is a chronic condition that can cause frequent urination, as well as bladder pressure and pain, says Dr. Bortecen. While a UTI might be caused by an infection and can easily be treated with antibiotics, interstitial cystitis is a longer-term condition that is not as easily treatable.
“People with this condition feel urgency and tend to urinate more often, with smaller volumes of urine than most people,” says Dr. Bortecen. “The condition comes from an immune reaction to the bladder from an irritating substance in the urine that damages the bladder, causing the sensation of urgency, as well as bladder spasms."
Unfortunately, diagnosing IC can be tricky, as it’s often undetected or misdiagnosed as something else. “Diagnosis and treatment of this condition are very similar to overactive bladder,” he says. Because IC is thought to be an autoimmune condition, certain immunosuppressive medications, such as Cyclosporine, have been successfully used to treat it.
You might have diabetes.
Frequent urination is often an early symptom of diabetes, as the body is attempting to get rid of unused glucose through the urine, says Christopher Hollingsworth, M.D., of NYC Surgical Associates.
Because diabetes causes excess sugar in the blood, the kidneys are forced to take it in, and if they can’t maintain this, that excess sugar will get released through urine, causing you to run to the bathroom. When you’re urinating so often, you're losing fluids, forcing your body to reach for fluids from your tissues to compensate, which can lead to dehydration.
Because excessive thirst is common in diabetics to begin with, you’re probably increasing your daily water intake to begin with, causing you to pee more. And if you’re peeing too often, you’re only exacerbating your dehydration levels. Thus, the cycle repeats itself.
You might have Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia
If you’re having trouble getting a steady stream going, it could possibly be linked to an underlying prostate condition known as benign prostatic hyperplasia, or an enlarged prostate. At first, you might notice a “decreased urine stream, where your urine just doesn’t come out as forcefully, and that it just doesn’t hit the wall like it used to,” says Hollingsworth.
In fact, “it also may take longer to empty a full bladder after some time with experiencing an over-full bladder, and it actually can injure the muscle of the bladder wall, leading to increasingly more bladder distention and damage,” he says. When this condition reaches its more advanced stages, it can become difficult even to initiate urination, and this is bad news, as you have to pass urine more frequently as is, he says.
Luckily, alpha-blockers, antihistamines, and amitriptyline (an antidepressant) can help as potential treatments, he says. You can also try prostate artery embolization, a noninvasive procedure that can help shrink the enlarged prostate gland. But be warned: while it’s safe and effective, side effects can include blood in the urine, semen, or rectum, along with bladder pain, says Dr. Bortecen.
You could have a rare medical condition
In rare cases, frequent urination can be a symptom of bladder cancer, says Dr. Brahmbhatt. The cancer can irritate your bladder, causing increased urination. “The only way to know for sure you don’t have cancer is to get yourself checked by a urologist, but bladder cancer is not common, so don’t freak out — you probably do not have it,” he says. It's also worth noting that other symptoms, such as blood in the urine, commonly present with bladder cancer, so if you're just peeing a lot and not experiencing any other symptoms, it's probably nothing to worry about.
Frequent urination can also be the byproduct of a stroke. “Sometimes when men have had strokes, this can lead to nerve damage within the nerves that go to the bladder. This can cause either going too much or having retention where you can not pee at all,” he says.
How To Quit Peeing (As Much)
The good news? For many of these conditions, you can mitigate the symptoms with a few lifestyle tweaks, says Dr. Bortecen. “Urologists recommend patients with overactive bladder keep a bladder diary to track trips to the bathroom and any urine leak,” he says. Avoiding a few food and drink triggers, such as caffeine, artificial sweeteners, alcohol, soda, citrus fruit, tomatoes, chocolate, and spicy food, could also help. These triggers are highly acidic in nature, which can cause irritation to the bladder. (Here's why your poop burns after eating spicy foods.)
To reduce frequent urination, men can also work on timed peeing. This means that you follow a daily bathroom schedule. Instead of going when you feel the urge, you go at set times during the day, says Dr. Posina.
You can also do kegel exercises to decrease urination frequency. They are typically done halfway through urination to stop or slow down the flow of urine. “Kegel exercises can strengthen the pelvic floor and relax the bladder,” says Dr. Bortecen.
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