Understanding and reducing nighttime bathroom trips, often caused by nocturia

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Tuesday, March 14, 2023
Understanding and reducing nighttime bathroom trips
A good night's sleep is a must for good health. For some, that sleep is interrupted by trips to the bathroom.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- A good night's sleep is a must for good health.

For some, that sleep is interrupted by trips to the bathroom.

Those trips could signal other health problems.

A Temple Health urologist says there are usually several factors contributing to them, and the first step to reducing them is understanding those causes.

"A younger person rarely gets up at night to go to the bathroom," says urologist Dr. Jack Mydlo.

But Dr. Mydlo says as the years go on, many people need to get up - It's a condition called nocturia.

The most common cause - for all ages - is drinking a lot of fluids late into the evening.

"They're told to drink a lot of water, just drink a lot of water. And they do that during the day, during dinner, and after dinner," says the doctor.

So limit your night-time consumption, especially alcohol and other beverages that pull water out of the body.

"The only thing that really hydrates you is pure and simple water. Not soda, not juice. Not coffee, not tea. Again, they may taste good. They may hydrate in the beginning, but they eventually have diuretic effects," he notes.

Medications such as blood-pressure drugs can also cause nocturia because they are diuretics.

It is also common during pregnancy, and for middle-aged and older men with an enlarged prostate gland.

Uncontrolled diabetes is another cause.

Congestive heart failure patients may have it, too, due to fluid collecting in the legs during the day.

"When you're at night, and you're in a horizontal position, that water then gets pushed back to the heart, which gets pushed to the kidneys, which makes it you know, increase your bladder volume," Dr. Mydlo says.

Nocturia is also a symptom of sleep apnea.

Dr. Mydlo starts treatment with a medication check, ruling out diabetes, and adjusting a patient's fluid intake patterns.

He also reminds patients to empty their bladder before bedtime.

Sometimes, medication helps.

But treatment isn't always necessary.

"If a patient tells me they can fall asleep at the drop of a hat right after they get up, and he doesn't want to, she doesn't want to be treated, then just follow it," he says.

On the flip side, Dr. Mydlo also encounters patients who don't even mention their excess bathroom trips to their medical providers, assuming nothing can be done.

He says it's better to have that conversation. It could lead to a better night's rest.