What is frequent urination?
Frequent urination, also known as urinary frequency, is a condition in which you feel the need to pass urine more often than usual. Frequent urination may occur due to a variety of reasons, some of which are not serious or harmful. For example, frequent urination may occur after drinking a lot of fluids, especially fluids that contain caffeine or alcohol. Pregnancy can cause frequent urination due to pressure put on the bladder by an enlarging uterus.
If frequent urination is unexplained or persistent, it can be a symptom of an underlying disease, disorder or condition. These include diabetes, urinary tract infection, enlarged prostate, and side effects of certain medications, such as diuretics.
Frequent urination can occur in all age groups and populations, and it may or may not occur with additional symptoms, such as a foul urine odor and burning with urination. Nocturia is frequent urination during the night, which is common in middle-aged and older men.
In some cases, frequent urination can be due to serious or life-threatening underlying diseases, such as pyelonephritis, urosepsis or diabetes. Seek prompt medical care if you have persistent frequent urination. Timely diagnosis and treatment of the underlying cause reduces the risk of serious or life-threatening complications, such as kidney failure and shock.
If you have frequent urination with symptoms such as high fever (higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit), abdominal or flank pain, bloody urine, or a change in consciousness or alertness, seek immediate medical care (call 911).
What other symptoms might occur with frequent urination?
Frequent urination may be accompanied by other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Symptoms can originate in the urinary tract (kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra), the reproductive system, the endocrine system, the cardiovascular system, and other organs and systems of the body.
Possible coexisting urinary tract symptoms
Urinary tract symptoms that can occur with frequent urination include:
Abdominal, pelvic or flank pain along your abdomen, side or back
Bladder spasms, pain or cramps, which are felt in the lower abdominal area
Dysuria (burning pain or discomfort with urination or difficulty passing urine)
Foul urine odor
Incontinence, leaking urine, or dribbling of urine
Urgency, a sudden intense need to urinate
Possible coexisting symptoms related to other body systems
Symptoms related to other organs or body systems that can occur with frequent urination include:
Excessive thirst and hunger
Unexpected weight loss or weight gain
Unusual vaginal or penile discharge
Serious symptoms that might indicate a life-threatening condition
In some cases, frequent urination can occur with symptoms that might indicate a serious or life-threatening condition that should be immediately evaluated in an emergency setting. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, have any of these serious symptoms:
Change in level of consciousness or alertness, such as passing out or unresponsiveness
High fever (higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit)
Severe abdominal pain or flank pain (along your abdomen, side, or low back)
What causes frequent urination?
Frequent urination is often caused by infection, inflammation or other conditions of the urinary tract (kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra) or the reproductive organs.
Frequent urination can also be caused by diseases of other body systems. For example, untreated or poorly controlled diabetes can cause frequent urination due to a high concentration of glucose (sugar) in the blood, which causes increased thirst, increased drinking, and frequent urination.
Urinary tract and reproductive system causes of frequent urination
Causes of frequent urination related to the urinary tract and reproductive system include:
Benign prostatic hyperplasia (also known as BPH, which is an enlarged prostate)
Cystitis (bladder inflammation or infection)
Gonorrhea and vaginitis
Long-term use of an indwelling bladder catheter (a tube that drains urine from the bladder)
Pelvic organ prolapse
Pregnancy and childbirth
Prostatitis (inflammation or infection of the prostate gland)
Other causes of frequent urination
Frequent urination can be caused by diseases and conditions that affect other organs and body systems including:
Certain medications such as diuretics, or water pills
Diabetes (chronic disease that affects your body’s ability to use sugar for energy)
Exposure to cold weather
Pelvic tumor or mass
Complications associated with frequent urination vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Complications of untreated or poorly controlled diseases, such as diabetes and kidney infection, can be serious and even life threatening. You can minimize the risk of serious complications of frequent urination by following the treatment plan you and your health care professional design specifically for you.
Underlying causes of frequent urination can lead to serious complications including: