The other night, I got up to pee six or seven times on a five-hour flight, stumbling over the person in the aisle seat. The next day, I excused myself three times during lunch with a colleague. Sound familiar? This constant need to pee is both uncomfortable and embarrassing. It also can point toward a surprising number of medical issues.
Most people pee six or seven times a day, but anywhere between four and 10 is OK if it's not causing any problems, Sangeeta Mahajan, MD, a urogynecologist at the University Hospital Case Medical Center, tells Bustle. Peeing more than 10 times a day — or peeing eight to 10 times and experiencing distress over it — is cause for concern.
I'm still not quite sure what my own constant peeing stemmed from, but it mostly went away on its own, especially after sleeping better, reducing stress, and limiting my liquid intake. The cause of frequent urination is difficult to identify without having a thorough picture of your habits and health, so you should see a doctor if you're dealing with it, says Mahajan. Sometimes, treating it is as simple as making some changes to your drinking habits, but other times, it indicates a health problem. In either case, taking care of it can save you a lot of annoyance, embarrassment, and discomfort.
Here are some of the most common causes of frequent urination, what each mean, and what you can do about it.
1Excessive Fluid Intake
We're always told to stay hydrated, but we're rarely told when to stop. It's actually not good to consume more than eight to 10 fluid ounces (a small cup) per hour, says Mahajan. Drinking more than this is the number one source of frequent urination, so the problem will often go away if you just drink less.
Around 33 million Americans suffer from an overactive bladder, which occurs when nerves in your bladder make it contract uncontrollably, says Mahajan. This is sometimes thought of as part of aging, but a recent study by Allergan, Inc. and the National Association For Continence found that a quarter of overactive bladder patients were diagnosed before they turned 35. If you have an overactive bladder, you'll likely feel a constant or sudden urge to pee even when there's not much in there. There are prescription medications you can take for this, says Mahajan, and in rare cases when that doesn't work, someone might undergo an invasive procedure like Bladder Botox injections or a bladder stimulator.
Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes lead you to clear glucose from the body through urination, says Mahajan. If your constant urination is a result of diabetes, you'll likely be drinking a lot and seeing a lot of pee come out each time. Your doctor can test your for diabetes using a blood or urine test.
Alcoholic and caffeinated drinks are diuretics — substances that make you pee. Certain medications used to treat fluid buildup and high blood pressure also work this way, says Mahajan. Try limiting your intake of diuretic drinks or asking your doctor about any medications that might be contributing to the problem.
The uterus pushes on the bladder when there's a fetus growing in it, which could make you feel like you have to pee even when there's very little in there, says Mahajan. If it's possible you're pregnant and you're feeling a deceptive urge to pee, take a pregnancy test to rule that out.
Similarly, an ovarian cyst — a growth on the ovaries — can push on your bladder, making it feel like you have to pee even when your bladder isn't full or making it hard to empty your bladder. Ovarian cysts can be detected through an ultrasound and may also cause pelvic pain or irregular periods.
This is a condition that affects the nerves that send signals from your bladder to your brain, causing pressure and pain in your bladder and pelvic region. You'll find yourself peeing a lot but with very little coming out. Interstitial Cystitis can be treated with physical therapy, medication, and nerve stimulation.
8Stroke Or Other Neurological Disease
In rare cases, a constant need to pee could stem from nerve damage resulting from a stroke or neurological disease, says Mahajan. This will likely have other symptoms, so a doctor should be able to give you the necessary tests if they suspect it.
So, to recap: If you find that you have to pee more than usual, try limiting your fluid and diuretic intake, and see a doctor to investigate any underlying problems. You should not have to suffer through a flight spent climbing over the person in the aisle seat every hour.