Managing a wee problem at night

Nocturia: How to manage frequent night time visits to the bathroom

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Frequently visiting the bathroom at night? Speak to your doctor. Photo: Shutterstock.

Frequently visiting the bathroom at night? Speak to your doctor. Photo: Shutterstock.

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Putting your feet up of an afternoon could help you get a better night's sleep.

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GETTING up frequently at night to go to the bathroom? You're not alone.

According to the Continence Foundation, frequent night time urination, or nocturia, could affect up to 70 per cent of people aged 70 and over.

Annoying as it can be, Janine Armocida, a continence nurse advisor from the National Continence Helpline, says you shouldn't limit your daily fluid intake to try and correct the problem.

It is important to drink adequate fluids to maintain hydration during the day," Janine said.

"Unless you are on a fluid restriction, you should not cut down the total amount of fluid you drink. Not enough fluid can make you dehydrated. This makes your urine more concentrated which can be irritating to the bladder and make you want to go to the toilet more, not less often."

Instead, Janine said it's better to be more mindful about what and when you drink.

"Try reducing the amount of fluid in the evening or overnight to see if this helps you. Consider reducing your intake of tea, coffee, drinks with caffeine (cola, energy drinks) and alcohol."

And believe it or not, putting your feet up in the afternoon could also make a difference.

"If your ankles swell over the day, try to have a one to two hour rest in the afternoon with your legs elevated. This may help to get rid of any extra fluid you may have in your legs or ankles during daylight hours," Janine said, adding that people who experience this should also speak with their doctors.

She said pelvic exercises may be beneficial, especially if you experience urinary urgency with your nocturia.

"Strengthening your pelvic floor muscles and learning how to 'hold on' better may give you more time to reach the toilet or put off the need to go, meaning you can go back to sleep."

What causes nocturia

There are a range of conditions which are risk factors for nocturia such as enlarged prostate in men, sleep apnoea, poor circulation, poorly controlled diabetes. There is some evidence of a link between neurological diseases such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, stroke and restless legs syndrome, however the causes are not clearly understood.

Medication, and cardiac and kidney function can also impact how many times a person gets up overnight. Some medications can have the side effect of increasing the risk of developing nocturia.

Janine said a discussion with your doctor may help to work out if any medications are contributing to the problem, what the alternatives may be, or if there are medications which may treat the problem.

"Seek help if you have symptoms of nocturia as it can be improved, or better managed, to improve your quality of life and sleep," she said.

"Talk to your doctor or call the National Continence Helpline on 1800-330-066 for further advice."

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