Many people, no matter their age, wake up in the middle of the night to urinate. It’s when it becomes an every night thing, and happens multiple times. This condition is called ‘nocturia’ and essentially means the need to pass water during the night.
Although nocturia is generally associated with the normal ageing process, it might be caused by a medical problem which can be treated, so it is always important to talk to your doctor about it.
You may be asked to keep a record of your bladder activity for a few days before your appointment with your doctor, which may show why you are getting up repeatedly.
Why does nocturia affect older people?
According to the Bladder and Bowel Foundation, the main reason is that as you get older, your bladder looses its elasticity and you are more likely to suffer from other medical conditions which can affect the bladder such as hormone issues, low circulation, and an enlarged prostate. It may also be non-age related, such as the result of a kidney or bladder infection.
How can nocturia be treated?
It is important for nocturia to be treated as it could result in loss of bladder function in some more serious cases.
You can reduce the instance of nocturia by:
- Cutting back on how much caffeine and alcohol you consume before bed
- Wearing support stockings for swollen ankles and legs
- Elevate your legs for an hour or so in the evening
- Completely empty your bowels and bladder before bed
- Take medications with a diuretic effect to the mid-afternoon (after checking with your doctor first)
- Exercise regularly to improve sleep quality
If you have tried to manage nocturia yourself without success, there are continence professionals throughout Australia who can help. Some of the treatments recommended after a continence assessment may include small doses of a diuretic or water tablets in the afternoon to remove fluid from the body before bedtime, medications or techniques to retrain your bladder to hold more urine.
For more information about nocturia and to find your nearest continence service, contact the National Continence Helpline on 1800 33 00 66 or visit the Continence Foundation’s website here.