Feeling the need to urinate more frequently than usual can be a distressing disruption to your normal life. In some cases, frequent urination is also accompanied by urgent urination, or the feeling of urgency when you have to urinate.
There are many possible causes of frequent urination, some of which can bring on other bothersome symptoms.
If frequent and/or urgent urination is affecting your quality of life, it’s important to reach out to your healthcare provider to identify the underlying cause and treatment options.
In this article, we’ll cover some of the most common causes of frequent urination, how they’re diagnosed, and what treatment options are available.
Keep in mind that speaking with a medical provider is the only way to confirm the cause of your frequent urination.
The main symptom of frequent urination (also called polyuria) is feeling the need to urinate more times throughout the day than usual.
Sometimes, you may also wake up several times throughout the night to empty your bladder.
Frequent urination at night is also called nocturia.
Depending on the cause of your frequent urination, you may experience additional symptoms.
Causes of Frequent Urination
There are many possible causes of frequent urination.
Identifying the underlying cause of your symptoms is essential to finding the right treatment plan.
A urinary tract infection (UTI) is one of the most common causes of frequent and urgent urination.
UTIs are generally caused by bacteria that enter the urinary tract via the urethra and then multiply in one or multiple areas of the urinary tract.
Symptoms of a UTI include:
- Feeling a frequent and urgent need to urinate
- Pain when urinating
- Burning sensation when urinating
- Passing frequent, small amounts of urine
- Cloudy urine
- Blood in the urine
- Strong or foul-smelling urine
- Pelvic pain (in people with vaginas)
- Pain in the side, lower abdomen, or back
- Nausea and/or vomiting
Antibiotics, which require a provider’s prescription, are the first-line treatment of UTIs caused by bacteria.
Bladder stones are hard, solid deposits that collect in the urinary bladder.
They’re often calcified, but they can be made of other materials, too.
The prevalence of bladder stones in Western countries is relatively low, but conditions such as benign prostatic hyperplasia and neurogenic bladder disorder can increase the likelihood of developing bladder stones.
Symptoms of bladder stones can be wide ranging, and in many cases, people with bladder stones don’t experience any symptoms.
However, when symptoms do occur, they are usually bladder-related. Possible symptoms of bladder stones include:
- Blood at the end of the urine stream
- Pain in the lower abdomen
- Weak stream of urine
- Pain while urinating
Small bladder stones can pass through the urinary tract, but larger ones may cause complications, including:
- Frequent urination
Type 1 and type 2 diabetes
Frequent urination can also be a sign of uncontrolled or undiagnosed diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that affects the pancreas.
Both children and adults can develop type 1 diabetes.
People with type 1 diabetes don’t produce enough insulin and need to regularly monitor their blood sugar levels and administer insulin when needed.
When there’s an excess amount of blood sugar, the kidneys aren’t able to redirect all of the sugar back into the bloodstream, causing more of it to end up in the urine.
This also results in more urine and frequent urination.
Polyuria caused by undiagnosed type 1 diabetes can lead to kidney problems, which is why it’s important to reach out to a medical provider if you’re experiencing other symptoms of type 1 diabetes, including:
Type 2 diabetes is primarily characterized by insulin resistance, which means the body’s cells don’t respond correctly to insulin.
When fat, liver, and muscle cells don’t respond to insulin, they’re unable to store blood sugar as energy, resulting in high levels of sugar that build up in the blood (hyperglycemia).
Frequent and increased urination is one of the signs of high blood sugar levels.
Other symptoms include:
- Infections that are frequent and slow healing
- Increased thirst
- Blurred vision
If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms of type 1 or type 2 diabetes, it’s important to speak with a medical provider.
The kidneys are responsible for filtering your blood and removing waste and excess water from your body to help produce urine.
Problems with your kidneys, including kidney disease and infection, can lead to a build-up of waste in the body and other problems that can damage your health.
Kidney infection (pyelonephritis) is a type of UTI that usually begins in the bladder and then travels to the kidneys.
Frequent and painful urination can be a sign of kidney infection, along with chills and fever.
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a serious condition marked by a gradual loss of kidney function over time.
Diabetes and high blood pressure are responsible for two-thirds of CKD cases.
An estimated 37 million American adults have CKD, but early detection can help prevent the progression to kidney failure.
Symptoms of CKD include:
- Frequent urination (especially at night)
- Trouble concentrating
- Poor appetite
- Trouble sleeping
- Muscle cramping at night
- Swollen feet and ankles
- Puffiness around the eyes (especially in the morning)
- Dry, itchy skin
Urinary incontinence can also cause frequent urination.
Urinary incontinence describes the condition when you’re unable to keep urine from leaking out of the urethra.
It can be brought on by a blockage in the urinary system, brain or nerve problems, dementia, weakness of the pelvic or urethral muscles, and other causes.
The condition can be temporary or more long-term.
Bladder retraining and pelvic floor exercises can help you to regain control over the bladder, but some people may benefit from medication or surgery.
Interstitial cystitis, also called painful bladder syndrome, is a chronic condition marked by pain, pressure, and burning in the bladder.
One of the main symptoms of interstitial cystitis is frequent and urgent urination.
Other symptoms include:
- Bladder pressure or discomfort
- Burning pain in the pelvic area
- Pain during sexual intercourse
Interstitial cystitis most often occurs between the ages of 20-40 and, unfortunately, the cause is unknown.
While there is no cure, there are some treatments that can help manage symptoms.
Certain medications and beverages
Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol and/or caffeine can also cause frequent urination.
In these cases, limiting alcohol and caffeine intake can help reduce urinary frequency.
Diuretics, also known as water pills, are a common treatment for high blood pressure, but they will increase urinary frequency in most cases.
Several other conditions can cause urinary frequency, including:
- Enlarged prostate
- Nerve-related problems
- Anxiety disorder
- Overactive bladder syndrome
- Diabetes insipidus
- Radiation treatment affecting the lower abdomen
Diagnosing the cause of your frequent urination requires a visit with your medical provider.
During the visit, your provider will ask about your symptoms and health history and perform a physical exam. Depending on your symptoms, they may recommend additional testing.
Your provider may request a urine sample to perform a urine culture, which checks for bacteria that may be causing a urinary tract infection.
A cystometric study will measure:
- The amount of fluid in your bladder when you feel the need to urinate
- The time it takes you to begin urinating
- The pattern, speed, and continuity of your stream
- The amount of urine
- How long it takes to empty your bladder
- When your bladder is completely full
The study will involve the use of a thin catheter, a computer, and a cystometer (tube) attached to the catheter to monitor bladder pressure.
Imaging tests, including an ultrasound or x-ray, may also be used to gather more information about the health of your bladder, urinary tract, and kidneys.
Treatment will depend on the cause of your frequent urination, which is why consulting with a medical provider is essential to determining the right course of treatment for your symptoms.
Treatment options may include:
- Antibiotics or other medications
- Bladder retraining
- Lifestyle changes
- Insulin therapy
When To See a Medical Provider
It’s important to reach out to your healthcare provider if you’re experiencing frequent urination that is interfering with your day-to-day life or if you have any additional bothersome symptoms, such as a fever over 100°F (37.7°C).
Additional symptoms that warrant medical attention include:
- Back or side pain
- Increased thirst or appetite
- Weight loss
- Bloody or cloudy urine
- Penile or vaginal discharge
How K Health can help
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Frequently Asked Questions
K Health articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.
K Health has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references.
Bladder Stones. (2022.)
Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) Symptoms and Causes. (n.d.)
Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, and Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD). (n.d.)
Frequent or urgent urination. (2022.)
Interstitial cystitis. (2022.)
Kidney Infection (Pyelonephritis). (n.d.)
Polyuria and Type 1 Diabetes. (n.d.)
Type 2 diabetes. (2022.)
Urinary incontinence. (2022.)