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Nocturia Is an Unrecognized Symptom of Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Sara C. Kelly and Taylor Kerstetter, Jonna Morris, School of Nursing, University of Pittsburgh, 3500 Victoria Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Background: Nocturia is a disorder disturbing the sleep of millions of men and is often not recognized as a symptom of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Snoring is also a common symptom of OSA. While many people don’t know if they snore, they do know that they frequently visit the bathroom at night. Unfortunately, it may go unrecognized as a symptom of OSA as it gets attributed to benign prostatic hypoplasia. The purpose of this qualitative study is to describe experiences of nocturia in men with OSA.  

Methods: A sample of 13 men and 11 women, (mean age ± SD = 51.8 ± 14.5 years) recently diagnosed with OSA were interviewed over the phone. Questions were open ended and gender neutral. Research assistants transcribed interviews verbatim for future analysis. 

Results: Consistent patterns emerged in men’s description of nocturia. Five men reported frequent trips to the bathroom, a feeling of urgency, but little urine output overnight. One man described his experience talking with his doctor about nocturia symptoms during the interview stating, “I’ll probably get up 8 times during the night. I went to the doctor for that and they said nothing’s wrong.” When the interviewer explained it could be attributed to sleep apnea, he was excited to start treatment to hopefully relieve this symptom. Another study participant stated, “I don’t wake up all the time, just a couple times a night to go to the bathroom”. He said he never reported it to his doctor, and also had a late diagnosis of sleep apnea.  

Discussion: Nocturia is underrecognized symptom of OSA compared to snoring among researchers, doctors, and patients. Asking men about their overnight bathroom habits can aid doctors in earlier diagnoses of OSA and less delay in patients receiving treatment. 




Additional Abstract Information

Presenters: Sara Kelly, Taylor Kerstetter

Institution: University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing

Type: Poster

Subject: Health & Human Development

Status: Approved


Time and Location

Session: Poster 7
Date/Time: Tue 3:30pm-4:30pm
Session Number: 5143