— A new study finds that one in five U.S. men have to get up at least
twice a night to empty their bladders. 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, even a benign enlargement of the prostate.
For some people, the constant sleep disruptions can themselves cause
problems — contributing to depression symptoms or, particularly in
older adults, falls.
How Common Is Nocturia?
Dr. Alayne D. Markland, the lead researcher on
the new study, which appears in the Journal of Urology, found that among
5,300 U.S. men age 20 and up, 21 percent said that in the past month,
they had gotten up at least twice per night to urinate. The study is
based on a government health study of a nationally representative sample
of U.S. adults, and gives a clearer picture of just how common nocturia
is among men.
“Getting up during the night to urinate can be normal,” explained
Dr. Markland. “If you drink a lot of fluids close to bedtime, for
example, don’t be surprised if your bladder wakes you up at night.”
What Causes Nocturia?
Doctors suggest that there are many different causes, but some
factors have been linked to prostate enlargement, a history of prostate
cancer, high blood pressure and depression.
But it’s not entirely clear if all of those problems cause, or result from, nocturia.
With depression, for example, Markland said that poor sleep caused by
nocturia could contribute to depression symptoms. On the other hand,
men with depression may have sleep problems and be more apt to get up to
use the bathroom; in that case, it would not necessarily be a full
bladder triggering the trip to the bathroom.
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.
Why Do African American Men Suffer From This More?
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.