So, you've finally started following the advice to drink more water, but now you have to pee all the time. Having to urinate frequently after drinking water might be annoying, but it's a perfectly healthy response to consuming more fluids, so don't worry. The best thing you can do is embrace it.
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On the other hand, if your water consumption hasn't increased, but you find yourself slipping into the bathroom too often, it may be a sign that something's going on underneath the surface that's begging a visit to your doctor. On the flip side, if you're drinking lots of water, but not going to the toilet, that might be a cause for concern, too.
How Your Body Makes Pee
To understand why you're peeing more often, it's helpful to get a grasp on how your body makes urine. Your body produces urine as a way to get rid of excess waste and water that it doesn't need. The major organs and structures involved in producing urine are the kidneys, the ureters, the bladder and the urethra.
The kidneys do the main work, filtering all the waste from the blood. But where does this waste come from? That's a good question. It naturally builds up as a result of normal digestion and metabolism. The kidneys also pull out extra water from the blood to keep the balance of electrolytes (like sodium and potassium) exactly where it needs to be.
When this waste and excess water come together, that's what you call "pee," or "urine" if you want to be more technical about it. And the amount of water and other fluids you drink is directly proportionate to the amount of urine you'll produce, if you're healthy (more on that, later). That's why, if you increase your daily water intake and frequent urination becomes part of a routine because of it, it's a perfectly normal response.
More Isn't Necessarily Better
Something to keep in mind, though, is that more isn't necessarily better when it comes to water. There's a big trend to drink as much water as you can or to "chug, chug, chug," but your body really only needs a certain amount of water to function normally — and it isn't necessary to drink more than that.
When it comes to exactly how much water you should drink, there's a lot of conflicting advice. The original rule was to drink at least eight 8-ounce cups per day, but now that advice has evolved into drinking half of your body weight in ounces. That means, if you weigh 150 pounds, your daily water goal would be 75 ounces.
But there's no hard and fast rule or one-size-fits-all approach to water consumption. The exact amount you need depends on different factors, like your age, sex, activity level and health status. Dr. Julian Seifter, a kidney specialist and associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, says that each person's approach must be individualized. And a person's needs can even change from day to day, depending on things like how much you sweat.
How Much You Should Pee
So, when it comes to urinary frequency, how often is too often? Well, according to the Bladder and Bowel Community, there's no one-size-fits-all answer to this either. Most people go between six and seven times in a 24-hour period, although anything between four to 10 times is considered normal too.
The National Sleep Foundation adds that most people can sleep for six to eight hours without having to get up to pee, but if you do need to go in the middle of the night one or two times, that's considered normal too. A good way to prevent full bladder sensations from waking you up is to stop drinking water a few hours before bedtime.
If you urinate frequently after drinking water and the total number of trips you take to the bathroom exceeds 10, it's probably nothing to worry about, especially if there are no other symptoms. That's a normal cause and effect reaction. However, if you're feeling a little concerned, you can always make an appointment with your doctor so you can be checked out to ensure that everything is OK.
When Frequent Urination Isn't Normal
If you have to pee all the time without a reason that you can pinpoint, it might be time for a check-in with your doctor. MedlinePlus defines "excessive urination" as anything more than 2.5 liters (or about 10 and a half cups). Some potentially serious conditions that can make you pee more are:
- A bladder infection
- Prostate problems
- Heart disease
- Interstitial cystitis
- Bladder stones
- Anxiety disorders
Frequent urination can also be a sign of an overactive bladder, which affects 33 million Americans, according to the Urology Care Foundation. When you drink a lot of water and then have to pee, your bladder fills up, but in most cases, you can hold it until you get to the bathroom. With an overactive bladder, you have to pee all the time, even without an increase in fluids, and that need is urgent. You may even leak a little if you can't get to the bathroom right away.
Not Peeing Enough
On the other end of the spectrum, if you're drinking lots of water but not going to the toilet, that's also a cause for concern. Most healthy adults make a little over two cups of urine in a 24-hour period. If you're making significantly less than this on a regular basis, that's another good reason to visit your doctor.
Although dehydration is the most common cause of decreased urine output (the official term for not peeing enough), it can also develop as a result of:
- A urinary blockage
- An enlarged prostate
- Certain medications (like anticholinergics, diuretics and some antibiotics)
- Blood loss
- An infection that leads to shock
- Kidney disease/failure
- MedlinePlus: "Urine Output - Decreased"
- KidsHealth From Nemours: "Your Urinary System"
- Mayo Clinic: "Frequent Urination"
- Bowel and Bladder Community: "Urinary Frequency"
- Urology Care Foundation: "Overactive Bladder"
- National Sleep Foundation: "Nocturia or Frequent Urination at Night"
- MedlinePlus: "Urination - Excessive Amount"
- Cleveland Clinic: "What Your Bladder Is Trying to Tell You About Your Health"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "How Much Water Should You Drink?"