There is nothing more annoying at work, or during a social event, than to have to constantly get up to use the bathroom. Not only is it uncomfortable and annoying, it can also be quite embarrassing for some. The good news is that you’re not necessarily stuck with a lifetime of frequent visits to the “loo.” Instead, it’s likely just a sign that something in your health or diet is out of balance. You may be wondering how much is “normal” to pee in one day?
The typical urine output in a 24-hour period varies between 4-8 times daily, depending on food and liquid intake and activity level. You may be peeing more often because its hot outside and you’re drinking more water, or perhaps work has been busy and your caffeine intake has increased. On the other hand, increased urination can also be a red flag for more serious medical conditions.
When your bladder is stretched, there is an automatic feedback mechanism that signals your brain to trigger the urge to urinate. Frequent urination can be cumbersome in the workplace, so many people decide to simply “hold it” for longer periods of time. While this may help you get more work done, the longer you hold your urine, the increased likelihood of bacterial infections, which can spread to your kidneys and cause more serious problems.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common causes of frequent urination.
If you have a urinary tract infection (UTI), you’ll have to go to the bathroom more frequently and you’ll likely know something is wrong, because you’ll also have pronounced pain or discomfort. This is much more common in women as the urethra is much shorter than in men, thus bacteria have a shorter distance to travel to the bladder, increasing the risk of infection. If you have a UTI, talk to your doctor or naturopath about the right treatment for you.
If you go the bathroom frequently, it may be a sign your blood sugar levels are on the rise. We often associate diabetes with overweight individuals, but skinny people can also have poor blood sugar control. Chronically high blood sugar levels lead to increased thirst, hunger and urination, and are an early warning sign of pre-diabetes. If you suspect a problem, a specific blood test (i.e., HbA1c) can assess your blood sugar control over the past 3 months and uncover if the early signs of a problem exist.
If you chronically drink a lot of water, and still pee frequently, you may be drinking too much water. Distilled water can flush out sodium from the body, resulting in increased thirst and urination. Losing too much sodium is called hyponatremia, and it’s a common problem in runners who overconsume water, thinking that “more is better.” If you’ve just started drinking additional water, it may take your kidneys a couple of weeks to modify the absorption rate, so it’s normal to go the bathroom more often.
Caffeine and alcohol are diuretics, which means they trigger increased urination. They actually block the anti-diuretic hormone (ADH), which, as the name suggests, prevents you from peeing frequently. Once you remove this natural inhibitory mechanism with too much coffee, tea, chocolate or alcohol, it can lead to more frequent trips to the bathroom.
Drink less coffee and alcohol to avoid taking too many trips to the bathroom throughout the day.
For men, as you get older, you may notice an increase in urination frequency, often considered a normal sign of aging. If your trips to the bathroom have significantly increased recently, it may be a sign of an enlarged prostate gland pressing up against your bladder and triggering the urge to urinate. Often in this situation, only small amounts of urine are voided each trip. Talk to your doctor if these symptoms sound familiar.
One of the most common types of drugs to treat high blood pressure are diuretics known as “water pills,” which remove sodium and water from the kidneys, allowing your blood vessels to relax. If your trips to the bathroom are getting annoyingly high, talk to your doctor about diet, exercise and lifestyle interventions for treating high blood pressure.
While it’s not good to hold out for too long, retraining your body to wait longer and longer between trips to the bathroom is helpful. Each week, try and lengthen the amount of time between “pee breaks,” gradually increasing the amount of time over a couple of months. This helps to reboot your brain and decrease the urgency to