What Causes the Frequent Urge to Pee?

How an Awkward Symptom Might Signal Something More

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Can a frequent to to pee be a symptom of cancer?. Photo by Brook Rieman/Moment/Getty Images

Having the constant urge to pee, even when you've just finished, is medically referred to as frequent urination or urinary frequency.

On average, people empty their bladders anywhere from four to eight times per day. Most are able to control their bladder if the urge suddenly appears.

But if you suddenly find that you need to go more than eight times a day and have a hard time to holding it in, it may be the indication of a more serious medical concern.

Diagnosing Frequent Urination

The frequent urge to pee can symptoms of many different conditions. In order to diagnose the cause, your doctor will usually perform a physical exam and ask whether you are on any medications, have any symptoms of infection, or have any change in your eating or drinking habits.

Other symptoms may accompany urinary frequency including fever, back pain, vomiting, chills, increased thirst, fatigue, changes in urine, or a discharge from the penis or vagina. Each of these can provide clues as to what may be happening.

Conditions That Can Cause of Frequent Urination

A review of symptoms can often lead a doctor to investigate the most likely cause of urinary frequency. Causes can include:

  • Urinary tract infection (UTI) refers to an infection of the urethra, bladder, ureter, or kidneys. When it affects the lower urinary tract, UTI can cause a person to feel like they need to pee all the time. The presence of small amounts of blood in the urine may also be an indication. UTIs are much more common in women than in men.
  • Diuretics include medications used to treat high blood pressure or the excessive accumulation of fluids in tissue. Use of these can cause a marked increase in urination. Caffeinated beverages, such as coffee and cola, can also have a diuretic effect.
  • Bladder cancer is often typified by the frequent need to pee and the presence of blood in the urine (usually without pain).
  • Overactive bladder is not a symptom of a problem but the problem itself. Involuntary bladder contractions make you feel like you have to pee even after you just went or cause you to wake up at night to take a pee.
  • Type I and I diabetes is also known cause excessive peeing in order for the body to rid itself of unused glucose.
  • Interstitial cystitis is a painful bladder condition that can lead a person to urinate as many as 60 times per day.
  • Ovarian cancer is often called a "silent killer" due to a lack of symptoms in the early stages. If you have the urge to pee but are not able to go, or are urinating more often than usual, it may be an early sign that needs to be checked.
  • Prostate cancer and prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate gland) can block the flow of urine if it presses against the urethra (the tube that carries urine out of the body). This increases the need to pee even though a person is unable to do so.
  • Neurological conditions can damage the nerves that supply the bladder, such as can happen with a stroke or Parkinson's disease. This can lead to bladder problems including the constant urge to pee.
  • Pregnancy can increase the need to pee as the pressure of the baby against the bladder almost always increases urinary frequency.
  • Chemotherapy has a number of side effect, among which is the frequent urge to pee. The urine can often be cloudy, have a strong smell, or have different colors as a result of the chemo medications.

Treating Urinary Frequency

Treating the underlying condition is usually the best way to deal with frequent urination. This may mean controlling a person's diabetes, treating a urinary tract infection, or undergoing cancer therapy.

If the condition is diagnosed as an overactive bladder, treatment may include behavioral therapies such as bladder retraining, diet modification, kegel exercises, and monitoring fluid intake.

Self-treating or presuming that it's a passing infection that will "go away on its own" is never a good idea. While the condition could very well be minor, it could also be an early sign of something serious. The best advice is to get it checked early, if only for your own peace of mind.

Source:

Homma, Y. "Lower urinary tract symptomatology: Its definition and confusion" International Journal of Urology. January 1, 2008; 15(1): 35–43.

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