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Why your salt intake may keep you running to the bathroom at night

A study shows that cutting back on salt can help relieve nocturia symptoms

Photo (c) TheThirdMan - Fotolia
There are plenty of reasons why you may not be getting a good night’s sleep, but perhaps one of the most common is the excessive need to go to the bathroom. The condition, called nocturia, occurs when an excess amount of urine is produced during the night. It primarily affects people over the age of 60, but it can develop at earlier ages for some people.

The causes of nocturia have generally been chalked up to anxiety, infections, and other medical issues, such as overactive bladder syndrome and enlargement of the prostate, but researchers now say that consuming excess salt could be the culprit.

“Night- time urination is a real problem for many people, especially as they get older. This work holds out the possibility that a simply dietary modification might significantly improve the quality of life for many people," said Dr. Matsuo Tomohiro of Nagasaki University.

The salt factor

Tomohiro and his fellow researchers conducted a study involving 321 Japanese men and women who had high salt intake and trouble sleeping due to nighttime urination. Over the course of 12 weeks, the researchers provided participants with guidance and support on how to lower their salt consumption.

Over the study period, 223 participants were able to lower their salt intake by 2.7 grams per day. For this group, nighttime frequency of urination dropped from 2.3 times per night to 1.4 times per night. In contrast, 98 participants increased their salt intake by an average of 1.4 grams per day, which increased the frequency of nighttime urination from 2.3 times per night to 2.7 times per night.

The findings indicate that salt intake does indeed factor into nocturia symptoms. The researchers believe that additional studies using more participants should corroborate their findings, and that future research will ultimately help consumers.

"This is an important aspect of how patients potentially can help themselves to reduce the impact of frequent urination. Research generally focuses on reducing the amount of water a patient drinks, and the salt intake is generally not considered. Here we have a useful study showing how we need to consider all influences to get the best chance of improving the symptom,” said Dr. Marcus Drake.

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