22 February 2002
An international congress has been established by a panel of world leading experts to educate urologists and GPs about the neglected disease area called Nocturia. Nocturia means waking to urinate more than once a night regularly.
Existing data indicates that 37.5 million Europeans (30 percent of the population aged 50 to 54 years old and 60 percent of those 70 to 80 years old)1 suffer from the disease, leaving a significant number of them under slept, less productive and accident prone.
Nocturia is largely an ignored and under-treated problem. Many people fail to seek advice about night time voiding because they mistakenly believe that it is a natural and unavoidable consequence of ageing.
"Waking up in the middle of the night on a regular basis, particularly during the crucial first four hours of sleep can cause serious problems -- apart from the negative consequences of sleep disruption, says Prof. Paul Abrams of Southmead Hospital in Bristol and chairman of the conference. 'Getting up in the night to pass urine can result in falls and fractures among the elderly who may be taking medication which makes them drowsy and therefore less alert."
Sufferers of nocturia are open to serious health risks because nocturia causes sleep deprivation, which increases the chance of traumatic injury through falling. 2
In a study of night-time falls of the elderly those with nocturia were at a significantly greater risk of falling, increasing from 10% to 21% with two or more voids per night.3
"Many people with nocturia suffer in silence or they may not realise that they have a problem, however people with nocturia can suffer from sleep disruption which can lead to excessive daytime sleepiness, increased morbidity and even car accidents'" says Professor Poul Jennum, Consultant at the Sleep Laboratory, University of Copenhagen, Glostrup Hospital.
There are many causes of nocturia including ageing and underlying diseases or conditions. One common cause is an overproduction of urine during the night.
People who suffer from nocturia should seek help from their physician. Whilst activities like reducing fluid intake and caffeinated drinks before bedtime can be effective, this may not be the solution for everyone. At present, a new treatment for nocturia, desmopressin, a drug which decreases urine production, has been approved in Finland and Mexico. It has been submitted for approval in the UK.
The First International Consultation on Nocturia is sponsored by an unrestricted educational grant from Ferring Pharmaceuticals.
1 Blanker Marco, Bohnen Arthur, Normal Voiding Patterns and Determinants of Increased Diurnal and Nocturnal Voiding Frequency In Elderly Men. J of Urology. 2000.
2 Barker JC, Mitteness LS. Nocturia in the elderly. Gerontologist 1988. 28:99
3 Stewart RB. Moore MT, May FE et al. Nocturia: a risk factor for falls in the elderly. J Am Geriatr Soc. 1992. 40:1217-20.
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