Demystifying Nocturia: Identifying the Cause and Tailoring the Treatment

Paula Laureanno, RN; Pamela Ellsworth, MD, FACS, FAAP


Urol Nurs. 2010;30(5):276-287. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Nocturia is a common problem with a significant impact on quality of life. The etiology of nocturia is multifactorial. Recent standardized terminology with respect to nocturia has been developed to promote more efficient communication among providers/specialists. A careful history, physical examination, and use of a voiding diary are important steps in identifying the etiology of nocturia and assist in tailoring the treatment regimen.
1. Define nocturia.
2. Explain the impact of nocturia on sleep.
3. Discuss the evaluation of nocturia.
4. Explain the treatment options currently being used for patients with nocturia.


Nocturia is a highly prevalent and bothersome condition with significant healthre lated consequences. Patients with nocturia may present to multiple practitioners, including a urologist, gynecologist, geriatrician, neurologist, sleep expert, endocrinologist, and primary care provider. Each practitioner/specialty may approach patients from a different perspective. Therefore, it is important that some of the basic terms surrounding nocturia have specific definitions so each individual provider refers to the same condition in his or her clinical evaluation and management.

Despite its impact, nocturia has been poorly described and managed. In 2002, the International Continence Society (ICS) defined nocturia as the complaint the individual has to wake at night one or more times to void (Abrams et al., 2003). The standardization subcommittee of the ICS further defined the terminology related to nocturia so that colleagues in different specialties could communicate effectively with respect to nocturia. Developments in the characterization of nocturia have allowed for simplified and concise approaches to the evaluation of patients presenting with nocturia. A greater understanding of the etiologies of nocturia has promoted the development of more focused treatment strategies.


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