What is Cold Diuresis?

Do you ever notice an increase in urinary urgency (urge to pee) or a need to go to the bathroom more if you are out in cold weather? If you know that feeling, you are bound to agree that it is annoying. It is called cold diuresis. So, what is cold diuresis?

The body's way of preserving heat as it experiences a drastic temperature change can result in urinary urgency. Although cold-induced diuresis is common and isn’t harmful, it sure is annoying. However, just because it is normal doesn't mean nothing can be done about it.

What is Cold Diuresis?

Diuresis Definition

Cold diuresis is a condition that involves the kidneys and the production of too much urine. This occurs when there are a lot of particular substances in our fluids that our kidneys need to filter. That fluid turns into urine and increases the amount of water that needs to be expelled by our bodies.

Consequently, we experience frequent urination when outside in cold temperatures.

Types of Diuresis and Causes

There are two main types of diuresis: Pressure Diuresis and Osmotic Diuresis.

  • Pressure Diuresis: Pressure Diuresis occurs as a consequence of increased pressure on the arteries. This type of diuresis helps the body to maintain a normal range of blood pressure.
  • Osmotic Diuresis: Osmotic Diuresis is attributed to having too many substances in the blood that are not absorbable. The kidneys filter these substances and flush them out with water which is why urine output is increased.
  • Forced Diuresis: is caused by diuretic medications purchased over the counter. Such medications are used when a patient has been trying to lose water weight.
  • Patients recovering from kidney failure can be inflicted with Rebound Diuresis.
  • There is also Immersion Diuresis: which occurs when the body is submerged in cold water. The cold causes blood vessels to constrict in response. This causes the body temperature to drop and blood pressure to rise.

Body Defense

Our body tries to preserve heat when it feels a drop in temperature, and fears contracting hypothermia. Protecting the internal organs is the body’s priority. The body redirects and reduces blood flow from the skin to the body’s center to ensure the vital organs stay warm and protected.

There is an increase in blood pressure when this happens. A greater amount of blood than usual is being pumped through a smaller amount of space. Blood flow is redirected and the kidneys respond by filtering excess fluid in the blood.

This reduces the volume and lowers blood pressure. An increase in urination is a result of the excess fluid filtering out.

Symptoms

Apart from the obvious need to urinate frequently, diuresis symptoms include thirst, poor or insufficient sleep, and fatigue. Fatigue is a result of the loss of electrolytes and essential minerals when urinating frequently.

How to prevent cold diuresis

Cold diuresis will be experienced to some degree by most of us at some time in our lives. While it may be common, and it may not be harmful, it isn’t normal if it persists. The good news is you can manage and prevent cold diuresis. Here are some things to do if or when your need to use the bathroom increases when it’s cold outside.

Bundle up and Stay Warm

If you plan on heading out into the cold, be sure to bundle up in layers. This will help to regulate your body’s temperature and prevent your body from thinking about getting hypothermia.

Breathe

Our bodies go into fight or flight mode when urinary urges arise. This triggers an increase in hormonal adrenaline which in turn amplifies the sensations we are feeling. Deep, diaphragmatic breathing can counteract that. Breathing helps the body to relax, thereby decreasing the adrenaline level, and suppressing the urge to urinate.

Consult a Urologist

Seek medical attention and consult a urologist if the urgency and frequency of the urge to urinate are ongoing. Your urologist will assess the pelvic floor and the muscles surrounding it. Then, they will observe your breathing patterns, conduct an assessment of your posture, and devise an individualized treatment plan for you.

Diagnosis

Unfortunately, there is no way to test for diuresis. Instead, your doctor may assess your symptoms and possibly look for other medical conditions that could be underlying the increased need to urinate.

To help your doctor, list any medications you are taking, and list what you have been drinking and eating recently. Also, keep a record of how often you have to pee.

Additional Reading: Cold Weather Safety (National Weather Service)

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