What is Cold Diuresis?

Do you ever notice an increase in urinary urgency or a need to go to the bathroom more if you are out in cold weather? If you know that feeling of needing to pee urgently, all the time, you are bound to agree, it's annoying. Cold diuresis is your body's way of preserving heat as it experiences a drastic temperature change and can result in urinary urgency. Although cold 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?

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 thus increases the amount of water that needs to be expelled by our bodies. Consequently, we experience excessive urination when outside in cold temperatures.

Types and Causes

There are two main types of diuresis: Pressure Diuresis and Osmotic Diuresis. Pressure Diuresis occurs as a consequence of increased pressure on the arteries. In fact, this type of diuresis is used by the body to maintain a normal range of blood pressure. 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.

Research suggests diuresis is caused by particular kinds of medications or by having too much glucose (sugar) in our blood. Forced Diuresis can be 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. 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 first priority. The body redirects the flow of blood from the skin to the body’s center in order to keep the organs warm and protected. When this happens there is a slight spike in blood pressure, because more blood than usual is being pumped through a smaller space. When the blood flow is redirected, the kidneys respond by filtering excess fluid in our blood in order to reduce the volume and lower 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, as a result of fluid loss, poor or insufficient sleep, and fatigue. Fatigue is a result of the loss of electrolytes and essential minerals when urinating frequently.

Tips for Managing 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 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

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.

Consult

Consulting a urologist would be a good idea 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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