26 March 2017

Does disturbed breathing while asleep make some people pee more at night?

A new study has found that reducing obstructive sleep apnea (where patients have difficulty in breathing while asleep -often associated with loud snoring) can reduce the need to get up and pee at night (nocturia). This study confirms the link between apnea and nocturia, and supports the idea that lifestyle management may contribute to reducing nocturia in certain cases. Nocturia affects more than half of men and women over the age of 50 ref1 and is reported as the most irritating of all voiding symptomsref2.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSAS) affects between 2% and 4% of men and women over the age of 50ref3. In severe cases, patients are treated by wearing a special mask while asleep - a CPAP mask (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure mask), which increases the air pressure in the throat, meaning that the airway doesn’t collapse during sleep. Now new Dutch research, presented at the European Association of Urology conference in London, shows that wearing the mask also reduces the frequency of nighttime peeing. 

Dr. Sajjad Rahnama’i from the Maastricht university Medical Centre (the Netherlands) studied 256 patients (206 male, 50 female)who were treated for OSAS by a CPAP mask. Prior to treatment for apnea, 69% of these patients reported nocuria (the need to get up and pee more than once a night). After starting to use the mask, nearly 2/3 of patients (65%) reported a reduction in the need to pee at night. The exact figure depended on the severity of the nocturia, with for example 32 of the 77 patients who previously reported 2 episodes per night, were able to pass the whole night undisturbed while to using the mask.

According to lead researcher Dr Sajjad Rahnama'iThis is the first study to show the true incidence of nocturia -peeing at night- in patients who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea. It’s also the first study to show the size of the effect of positive pressure mask treatment (CPAP) in patients with obstructive sleep apnea (OSAS) on their nocturia symptoms ”.

Commenting for the EAU, Professor Marcus Drake (Bristol, UK) said:

“It may seem surprising that breathing problems can cause excessive urine production while asleep, but actually the problem is very real. To have a study showing the link, and the potential benefits of therapy, may help establish the treatment into routine clinical practice”.

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