Urinary urgency is the sudden urge to pass urine that cannot be controlled. People with this condition cannot hold their pee for long and need to relieve themselves immediately otherwise they can become incontinent. Frequent urination may also be accompanied with pain and discomfort particularly if it is caused by an infection. Pregnancy is another common cause of urinary urgency as the baby puts pressure on the bladder.
The type of treatment you will receive for urinary urgency depends on the cause. The cause is often treated to ease symptoms such as urinary urgency. If frequent urination is a symptom of an infection this will be treated with antibiotics. Some lifestyle changes are also recommended to control this condition. It’s important not to ignore bladder problems or leave them untreated as you may develop further complications.
“Urinary urgency is quite common particularly amongst the elderly and pregnant women. The sudden urge to pee and not being able to hold pee for long can cause anxiety if you’re not able to reach a toilet in time. Many people with this condition will experience incontinence which is when anxiety develops. Drinking too much caffeine and alcohol is a common cause of frequent urination, however, you should see a doctor to rule out other causes such as infection, in which case antibiotics may be prescribed.”
What is urinary urgency?
Urinary urgency can sometimes be referred to as urinary incontinence, this is because urinary urgency is characterised as an overwhelming and sudden urge to urinate which can lead to incontinence if you don’t make the toilet in time. Many people can develop anxiety around this condition through fear of incontinence as there are no warning signs, the need to urinate can happen at any time and you will need to pee straight away to avoid leakage.
Most people who feel the urge to urinate can hold this until they get to the nearest toilet, however, those with urinary urgency are unable to hold their pee. Urinary agency can cause pain and discomfort, as well as embarrassment and can hinder your work and social life.
It is difficult to determine what is normal when it comes to how frequently you urinate. Some people may drink more liquids throughout the day which causes them to pee regularly, this may be up to 10 times a day. However, other people may go more times than this and if it’s accompanied with the inability to hold the pee it’s likely that this is urinary incontinence. This may also be referred to as an overactive bladder which can cause urinary urgency and incontinence. Symptoms of an overactive bladder include:
- Uncontrollable urge to urinate
- Frequent urination - 8 or more times in 24 hours
- Waking during the night to pee
There are many reasons why you might feel the overwhelming need to urinate, and there are ways of managing this conditions. Treatment is very much dependent on cause.
What is the cause of urinary urgency?
There are many causes of urinary urgency and its important to get a diagnosis so you can get the best treatment that manages or cures your condition. In some cases the cause may be as simple as drinking too much liquid, or drinking too much caffeine or alcohol, and just by reducing your intake or cutting out caffeine and alcohol completely will help with this condition and help you control when your urinate.
Other causes are more complicated and urinary urgency may be a symptom of other health conditions. Diabetics are more likely to experience urinary urgency because of high blood sugar levels. When there is too much glucose in the blood the body will try to get rid of it by making the kidneys work harder to flush the glucose out through urine more frequently. It’s important to keep blood sugar levels under control to reduce urinary urgency. However, treating high blood sugar with diuretic may also cause frequent urination.
Urinary urgency may be a sign of an infection. Urinary tract infections are the most common cause of urinary urgency. They predominantly affect women because of the biological structure of the urethra, it’s shorter than that of a man and therefore meaning bacteria has more chance of reaching the bladder. Urinary urgency is also a symptom of vaginal infections and an enlarged prostate as this puts pressure on the bladder causing frequent peeing.
Pregnancy is also another common cause of urinary urgency. It’s common for pregnant women to feel the need to empty their bladder more frequently than usually, particularly during the third trimester as the baby puts more pressure on the bladder.
Urinary urgency may also be a sign of something more serious such as bladder, ovarian, or prostate cancer, or neurological problems which cause nerve damage such as stroke. Some cancer treatments such as chemotherapy may also cause urinary urgency as it is a side effect of this medication.
How does urinary urgency affect a person’s life?
Although it may seem insignificant, urinary urgency is a huge problem for a lot of people. The ability to have normal toilet functions is taken for granted, the simple act of urinating may become a hindrance to some people. Those who frequently urinate and are at risk of incontinence may need to plan their daily activities around being close to a toilet. This can cause stress and inconvenience and if the condition is long term this may lead to depression and anxiety. If urinary urgency is affecting you at night this can disrupt your sleep and leave you severely fatigued in the day which may affect your work productivity.
Are there complications of urinary urgency?
If the underlying cause is left untreated there may be complications, particularly if the cause is an infection. Not treating infections can lead to secondary infections, for instance, if a urinary tract infection is left untreated this may lead to a bladder infection. Dehydration may also occur if a person reduces the amount of fluids they’re drinking to reduce the amount of times they urinate. It’s important to stay hydrated even if you’re suffering from urinary urgence.
How to treat urinary urgency
To stop frequent urination the cause is treated. If the cause of your condition is an infection this will usually be treated with antibiotics. If you’re taking medication this may need to be reviewed by a doctor to see if any are making you pee more frequently, and if so they can look at reducing your dosage or changing to an alternative medication. You should also monitor how much you’re drinking, your doctor can advise on the best way to stay hydrated without worsening your condition. Reducing your consumptions of caffeinated and alcoholic drinks can help to reduce the amount of times you pass urine.