The Medical Condition 72 Percent of Americans Don’t Know About is Stealing Sleep and Disrupting Lives, Survey Shows

San Francisco, CA ( -- Sleepless nights can be costly. They interfere with daily activities and work productivity and leave one feeling tired and irritable. If left untreated, sleep loss can result in serious medical consequences. A leading cause of sleep loss is a medical condition called nocturia,which a staggering 72 percent of Americans have never heard about, according to a new national online survey of 2,040 U.S. adults conducted by The Harris Poll, and endorsed by Caregiver Action Network, National Association for Continence, Prostate Conditions Education Council, and The Simon Foundation for Continence.

Nocturia forces individuals to get up more than once per night to urinate. Nocturia has many contributing causes, but in most cases, it is caused by the kidneys producing too much urine at night, known as nocturnal polyuria. The poll shows that while nocturia may affect more than a third of U.S. adults, 64 percent of Americans have no idea it is a diagnosable, treatable medical condition.

Worse yet, 66 percent of nocturia sufferers2 surveyed have never talked to their doctor or health care professional about it. Half of those patients reported they thought it was a normal part of aging; 27 percent said they believed that nothing could be done about it.

“We see patients who have suffered from nocturia for many years, as it slowly progresses from getting up twice to over four times per night to urinate,” said Benjamin M. Brucker, M.D., a specialist in urology and female pelvic medicine at NYU Langone Health. “Nocturia can have serious implications for an individual’s emotional state and daily life, due to sleep disruption, if not diagnosed and treated. Up until recently, we didn’t have an approved treatment specifically for nocturia.”
Awakening multiple times during the night is not only bothersome but can lead to serious and even dangerous medical consequences. The poll showed that a stunning 72 percent of nocturia sufferers are negatively affected at night, revealing that they can’t get back to sleep (43 percent), they wake up their partner (12 percent) and they are nervous about tripping or falling when walking to the bathroom (10 percent). In fact, this worry has merit: one in four Americans age 65 and over fall each year, and every 19 minutes an older adult dies from a fall, according to the National Council on Aging.3 The cost of nocturia-related falls in older adults is estimated to be $1.5 billion annually.4

“Nighttime is high-risk for falls because of the disorientation a person feels when awakening and then rising in the night,” said Laurence Rubenstein, M.D., former chairman of the Donald W. Reynolds Department of Geriatric Medicine at the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine, and former co-director of the Fall Prevention Center of Excellence.

The effects of nocturia are also felt during the day. In fact, 61 percent of nocturia sufferers experience daytime symptoms, including drowsiness or tiredness (42 percent), irritability (21 percent), issues with their ability to get things done (17 percent) and trouble concentrating (15 percent).

“Before receiving treatment for nocturia, I typically wound up making five trips to the bathroom each night, which I knew wasn’t normal,” said Jack Fagan, a 67-year-old resident of Sewell, NJ. “Treatment has made a noticeable impact on my quality of sleep. I find myself more refreshed and have the energy to enjoy time with family and friends.”

Nocturia is often confused with overactive bladder or enlarged prostate symptoms, but 70 percent of nocturia sufferers surveyed are not experiencing urinary frequency or urgency symptoms during the day, which means they are likely experiencing symptoms of nocturia due to nocturnal polyuria.

According to the Caregiver Action Network, more than 90 million people in the US provide care for a family member or friend.5 “Most family caregivers are already sleep-deprived,” said John Schall, the chief executive officer of Caregiver Action Network. “If a caregiver is losing, even more, sleep helping a family member or friend suffering from nocturia, it only compounds an already serious problem. That’s why I urge all adults, particularly if they’re caring for someone with frequent nighttime urination, to speak to a healthcare provider so they can get the sleep they need.”

Benjamin M. Brucker, M.D., is a consultant for Avadel Pharmaceuticals.

Listen: Radio Interview with Benjamin Brucker from New England Broadcasting

1. Bliwise DL, Foley DJ, Vitiello MV, et al: Nocturia and Disturbed Sleep in the Elderly. Sleep Med. 2009 May; 10(5): 540-548
2. Those that indicated they wake up from sleep 2+ times per night to urinate
3. National Council on Aging. Fall Prevention Facts. Accessed August 22, 2018
4. Holm-Larsen TWJ, Weiss J et al. Economic Burden of Nocturia in the US Adult Population. J.Urol. 183 (2010).
5. Pew Research Center. Family Caregivers. Accessed September 7, 2018

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