No one enjoys symptoms and conditions related to urinary issues, and some may be especially irritating, such as having a constant or urgent need to urinate. Sometimes, this can also be a big hassle, especially for those who travel, have long commutes to and from work, are on a sales floor during the day and can’t escape to the restroom quickly, and anyone with a very active social life.
What is a UTI?
Just as bacteria can infect other areas of the body, they sometimes cause infection in the urinary tract, including the bladder and kidneys. A UTI is often easily remedied with a short visit to the doctor and a prescription for antibiotics, though sometimes, the particular bacteria only respond to certain medications. In those cases, it may take more than one round of antibiotics to rid the system of the infection.
UTIs are common, especially in women, though men are susceptible as well. They can occur more frequently if a person is dehydrated, has recently had a catheter, or has kidney disease. One of the most common symptoms of a UTI, aside from burning and pain while urinating, is the frequent, urgent need to pee. Normally, an urge to urinate can be controlled, but the inflammation and irritation in the urinary tract can make that more difficult. In addition, it can sometimes lead to the “phantom” need to urinate, with nothing being expelled.
Other causes of frequent urination
Of course, this isn’t the only symptom of a UTI, and upon a visit to the doctor, a patient might find that their experience points to some other underlying cause. In this case, it’s important to follow up and let the physician perform a more extensive medical history and perhaps take more tests. Some of these other conditions could be more serious.
- Diuretics. While taking a diuretic to flush fluid out of the body based on swelling is the most common use, some people don’t realize other medications they take have similar properties. For example, blood pressure medication acts as a diuretic. Also, caffeine is a diuretic, so consuming large amounts of coffee, sodas, or energy drinks could lead to frequent urination.
- Overactive bladder. Some mistake this as a symptom, when it is actually a cause. An overactive bladder contracts involuntarily, and this could cause a patient to feel as though they need to urinate, even immediately after they have emptied the bladder. It is also a reason that many people awaken several times during the night to use the restroom.
- Bladder cancer. This is rare in younger patients, but it is typified by the frequent and urgent need to pee, accompanied by blood in the urine. However, unlike a UTI, this is rarely painful. Experiencing these symptoms without pain should trigger an immediate visit to a physician.
- Diabetes. In patients suffering from both Type I and Type II diabetes, frequent need to urinate occurs especially when blood sugars are not controlled. This is one of the ways the body attempts to rid itself of excess glucose.
- Neurological conditions. Some conditions damage the nerves that control bladder function, which can lead to the frequent need to urinate and incontinence. Such conditions include Parkinson’s disease, stroke, and multiple sclerosis.
- Interstitial cystitis. With this sort of condition, which includes inflammation of the bladder, excruciating pain, and the need to urinate as many as sixty times per day, a patient will need to seek treatment for symptoms, as there is no cure.
- Ovarian cancer. There are few symptoms of ovarian cancer early on, which can lead to it spreading before it has been caught. In order to assure this doesn’t happen, a patient who either has a frequent urge to urinate and can’t, or someone who is urinating more often than usual with no other symptoms, should consult with a physician.
- Prostate. In men, prostatitis, or inflammation of the prostate, presses against the urethra and creates the urge to pee, and then prevents the individual from doing so. This is also a symptom of the more serious prostate cancer, meaning it is important for men to have their prostates examined frequently.
- Chemotherapy. In many cases, urination during chemotherapy mirrors a UTI, with more frequent urges to pee, cloudy urine, and strange discoloration, as well as a very strong smell.
- Pregnancy. The growth of a child in the uterus decreases space for other organs and especially presses on the bladder, meaning that it is quite likely a woman carrying a child will have more frequent urges to urinate.
Treatment for frequent urination
Since frequent urination is a symptom of some other condition, any treatment will be for that condition rather than the urge to pee. For example, someone with a UTI will likely be prescribed antibiotics to clear up the infection, and as the medication takes effect, the frequent urination will slow down. For someone with overactive bladder, on the other hand, it may require various therapies, including diet and exercise, lifestyle changes, and specific exercises (such as Kegels) to tighten the muscles around the urinary tract for greater control.
Needing to urinate constantly can be aggravating, and it can reduce a person’s quality of life, interrupting everything from work to social events and sleep. Exhaustion, inability to concentrate, and fear of being caught too far from a bathroom can also be emotionally stressful. Seeing a doctor to learn more about why this is happening can lead to a diagnosis and, in most cases, some form of treatment or therapy that reduces the impact of the problem and reduces the need to urinate so often.