NEW YORK(Reuters Health) – A new study finds that one in five U.S. men have to get up at least twice a night to empty their bladders — which for some could signal an underlying medical problem or even contribute to poorer health.
Known as nocturia, those frequent overnight trips to the bathroom can be a sign of a health condition, ranging from a urinary tract infection to diabetes to chronic heart failure. In men, a benign enlargement of the prostate can also be a cause.
For some people, the constant sleep disruptions can themselves cause problems — contributing to depression symptoms or, particularly in older adults, falls.
On the other hand, getting up during the night to urinate can also be normal. If you drink a lot of fluids close to bedtime, for example, don’t be surprised if your bladder wakes you up at night.
Nocturia also becomes more common with age. Part of that is related to older adults’ higher rate of medical conditions. But it could also result from a decrease in bladder capacity that comes with age.
The researchers found that men age 20 and up, 21 percent said they had gotten up at least twice per night to urinate.
Nocturia was more common among African-American men (30 percent) than those of other races and ethnicities (20 percent). Not surprisingly, it also increased with age: Just 8 percent of men ages 20 to 34 reported it, compared with 56 percent of men age 75 or older.
Other factors linked to an increased risk of nocturia included prostate enlargement, a history of prostate cancer, high blood pressure and depression.
Nocturia can also be a side effect of some medications, such as diuretics used to treat high blood pressure. This study did not have information on men’s medication use.
Avoiding caffeine and a large fluid intake at night may help as may other lifestyle tactics, like adjusting your sleep habits.
One recent study of 56 older adults with nocturia found that lifestyle changes — including fluid restriction, limiting any excess hours in bed, moderate daily exercise, and keeping warm while sleeping — helped more than half of the patients significantly cut down their overnight trips to the bathroom.
There are also medications available specifically for overactive bladder and nocturia. Those include a synthetic version of a hormone, anti-diuretic hormone, that keeps the body from making urine at night, a drug that blocks the ability of the bladder muscles to contract, and antidepressants that make it harder to urinate by increasing tension at the bladder neck.
The bottom line for men is that bothersome nocturia is something they should bring up to their doctor.
SOURCE: bit.ly/fGZKNN Journal of Urology, online January 19, 2011