Sleepless in the Bathroom

Overactive bladder problems and sleep apnea in women are linked

September 7, 2012 / Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

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(dailyRx News) Tired of trips to the bathroom in the middle of the night? For women who can't sleep, your bladder may be connected to those long, restless nights.

A recent study presented at a conference found that sleep apnea in women has been linked to overactive bladder syndrome.

This means frequently using the bathroom could be caused by several different reasons.

"Bathroom issues? - Ask your doctor."

Though the study is small, researchers led by Nuria Grau, PhD, from the Hospital del Mar in Barcelona, Spain, studied 72 female patients who had symptoms of sleep apnea.

Results are still in the preliminary stage and need to be reviewed.

In the study, participants completed a questionnaire asking them about their bladder control, need and frequency of urinating, whether they had any minor accidents, and any excessive urination at night.

They also rated their level of discomfort with each of these symptoms. Scores ranged from zero to three for each of the items, totaling to 12.

Researchers analyzed the results and rated them on two scales to find out how severe the symptoms were and how much discomfort the participants felt.

Sixty-two of the women were diagnosed with sleep apnea. They had an average score of 5 for their symptoms, compared to a score of 3 in the group not diagnosed with the condition.

What the researchers found adds more proof to the findings in previous studies.

"The bottom line is it's not earth shattering," said Dr. Mark Ellerkman, chief of the Division of Urogynecology at Mercy Medical Center.

"The question that I see come up in both men and women is, 'Is it the sleep apnea waking patients up or is it truly their bladders waking them up?' And it's sometimes hard to know what comes first."

Further, the sleep apnea group averaged a score of 4 out of 12 for discomfort compared to a score of 1 for the group without.

"The findings of this study provide evidence that bladder control could be linked to sleep apnea, although we do not know whether one of the conditions causes the other,"

“The next step in our research is to investigate the role of continuous positive airway pressure therapy in these patients and its impact on the symptoms of overactive bladder," Dr. Grau said in a press release.

The study was presented Sept. 3 at the European Respiratory Society’s Annual Congress in Vienna. 

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Review Date: 
September 6, 2012
Last Updated:
September 8, 2012