Gotta Go? Frequent Nighttime Urination May Indicate Sleep Apnea

American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine
Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Nocturia, which causes people to wake up during the night to urinate, has been linked to sleep apnea but is not currently used as a screening tool. New research investigated whether nighttime urination frequency can help physician screen for this serious medical condition that causes a person to stop breathing during sleep.

The study determined the predictive power of nocturia for OSA and compared findings with other markers of OSA commonly used to screen for this disease, such as snoring. The study was a retrospective chart review. It included 1,007 adult patients who were seeking diagnoses and treatment at one of two New Mexico sleep centers.

Patients completed detailed medical and sleep history questionnaires and took a PSG to determine their apnea–hypopnea index (AHI), which indicates OSA severity. Some of the measurements included nocturia, snoring, body mass index (BMI), sex and age. Snoring was reported by 77 percent and nocturia was reported by 83 percent. Eighty percent of the patient sample demonstrated OSA.

Results indicated that patient-reported nocturia predicted OSA severity more than body mass index, sex, age, and self-reported snoring. Nocturia was very similar to snoring in regard to predictive power for clinical OSA with a comparable sensitivity of 84 percent. Snorers had a higher mean AHI than non-snorers, and patients with nocturia had an elevated BMI.

Researchers found that nocturia appears comparable to snoring as a screening tool for OSA. Research in urology and primary care clinics is needed to clarify the use of nocturia as a screening tool.

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