The need to get up at night to have a pee is not only inconvenient ” by disrupting sleep it can seriously impair energy levels and general well-being. Usually, this symptom is taken to be a sign that the prostate gland (which sits underneath the bladder and encircles the ‘water pipe’ or urethra) has enlarged. However, getting up at night to pass water can occur in men who have no evidence of prostatic enlargement. In such men, the underlying problem can be a condition known as ‘detrusor instability’. The detrusor muscle is located in the wall of the bladder, and ‘twitchiness’ in this can lead not only cause us to want to get up at night, but also frequent passing of relatively small volumes of urine during the day.
In a study published this week in the journal Urology, men with an overactive bladder and frequent urination at night were found to benefit from treatment with a drug called Detrol (tolterodine). But for those individuals who have this symptom, I have a better idea: take some MAGNESIUM! Magnesium is the nutrient which is essential for normal muscular function. Low levels of this mineral, in my experience, is a common factor in detrusor instability in both men and women. Other symptoms that suggest magnesium deficiency include muscular cramps and/or occasional twitching. In one study, it was found that symptoms of detrusor instability improved in more than half of the women taking magnesium. In contrast, only 20% of women taking placebo (inactive) medication reported any improvement (1). Magnesium probably works by helping to relax and improve co-ordination in the detrusor muscle. My experience in practice is that this approach usually works in men too. One good way to up one’s intake of magnesium is to eat more nuts. Another way is to supplement with this mineral at a dose of about 300 mg per day.
(1). Gordon D, et al. Double-blind, placebo-controlled study of magnesium hydroxide for treatment of sensory urgency and detrusor instability: preliminary results. Br J Obstet Gynaecol 1998;105:667-6