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The kidneys filter out excess water, sodium, toxins, and other waste products from the blood, which are then excreted from the body in the form of urine. They need to function properly to purify the blood and maintain electrolyte balance, both of which are essential for good health.
If your body does not produce enough urine to flush out these unwanted substances, they will stick around in your bloodstream and cause serious harm over time. This is why it is important to be wary of low urine output and treat it timely.
People who are grappling with a sickness tend to produce less urine. Dehydration and significant blood loss reduce blood flow to the kidneys, hampering their ability to produce urine. Moreover, tumors, a swollen prostate, and other bladder problems can also block the outflow of urine.
Prevalence of Urinary Disorders
Almost half of all men above the age of 50 years complain about urinary problems such as decreased or slow urine flow, which tend to worsen with age. (1)
Note: If you have persistent swelling, see your doctor to determine if there is an underlying cause that requires treatment.
How to Increase Your Urine Output
Here are some natural ways to promote urine production.
1. Drink plenty of water
Staying hydrated is the most fundamental step for maintaining proper urine flow. (2) Water should make up most of your fluid intake, but you can have citrus fruits, broths, and fresh nutritious juices as well to meet part of your needs.
This does not mean that you should flood your system by consuming a lot of water in a short period as that will overwork your kidneys and compromise their function. Instead, let your body guide you.
Feeling thirsty is your body’s way of telling you that you need water. So, drink when you feel thirsty rather than forcefully gulping down copious amounts of water at any time.
It’s best to spread out your water intake throughout the day so that your body remains hydrated at all times (3) and the renal system doesn’t get overwhelmed.
Keep a glass of water at your bedside table when you retire for the night. However, avoid drinking too much close to bedtime as you may have to repeatedly get up during the night to urinate.
2. Use a heat pack
Topical heat therapy can help loosen up your bladder muscles to stimulate better urine flow. (4)
How to use:
- Apply a hot water bottle or heating pack between your belly button and your pubic bone to relax the underlying bladder muscles.
- Alternatively, you can go for a warm bath.
3. Limit caffeine and alcohol intake
Caffeine (5) and alcohol (6) are known to irritate the bladder, severely hindering the production and flow of urine. Thus, if you are struggling with low urine output, avoid these irritants as much as possible.
4. Stay away from antihistamines
Antihistamines and decongestants are the standard medications for providing symptomatic relief from throat infections and common colds. (7) They work by alleviating the inflammation and mucus buildup in your airways and thus facilitate normal breathing.
These drugs are largely considered safe and effective, but they can constrict the muscles around the urethra to limit urine flow.
So, even though they are easily available over the counter, people with preexisting urinary problems should consult their doctor before taking them with extra precaution.
5. Drink warm lemon water
Lemon juice is good for your urinary system in more ways than one.
For starters, it is a natural diuretic that helps your body produce more urine. Second, it helps flush out excess salt from your system to inhibit undue water retention.
Plus, it contains citric acid, which helps in the removal of unwanted toxins from the body. (8) Lastly, lemon juice may even be useful in curbing high uric acid levels and combating urinary tract infections.
How to use:
- Squeeze half a lemon into a glass of hot or warm water.
- Mix in some honey.
- Drink this tonic every morning on an empty stomach for the best results.
You can try some other beverages that work as diuretics to increase your urine output. These include cranberry juice, green tea, and watermelon juice.
6. Use dandelion
Dandelion is an herb credited with significant diuretic properties that help increase the frequency and volume of urination. It is especially useful for reducing water retention in the body. (9)
You can get this herb in the form of teas and supplements, but here is a simple remedy using fresh dandelion:
How to use:
- Chop half a cucumber and one apple.
- Put them in a high-speed blender along with a handful of fresh dandelion (leaves/root), a handful of parsley, and 4 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar.
- Pour in ½ cup of water, and add more liquid later if needed. You can even use green tea or coconut water instead of regular water depending on your taste.
- Blend all the ingredients to make a smooth paste.
- Consume this drink throughout the day.
7. Try celery seeds
Celery is replete with water and electrolytes that help combat dehydration, a prime culprit for low urine output.
Plus, it contains compounds that help eliminate excess water from the body via urine to alleviate bloating. These include phthalides, (10) COX-2 inhibitors, and coumarin, all of which exhibit diuretic properties that increase urine flow.
You can season your soups, stews, dips, sauces, pickles, and homemade bread with celery seeds, or use them to make celery seed tea.
How to use:
- Steep 1 tablespoon of celery seeds in 2 cups of boiled water for 10–20 minutes.
- Strain the tea and drink it once daily.
Note: This remedy is not recommended for pregnant women.
Parsley brewed into tea has long been used for reducing water retention. This herb keeps sodium and potassium salts from getting reabsorbed into the kidneys, facilitating increased urine production and thereby relieving bloating.
In one study, the consumption of parsley extract led to far more urine output in subjects over a 24-hour period as compared to only drinking water. (11)
How to use:
- Boil 1 cup of water.
- Put in 1 tablespoon of fresh, crushed parsley.
- Cover and steep for 5 minutes.
- Strain the tea and drink it 2–3 times a day for a couple of weeks.
- Add ¼ cup of parsley juice to ½ cup of water.
- Mix in a little honey and lemon juice.
- Drink this solution twice a day for a couple of weeks.
Note: Pregnant women should avoid parsley.
9. Consume watermelon
Plus, it contains the amino acid L-citrulline, which helps increase nitric oxide synthesis inside the body. Nitric oxide, in turn, dilates the blood vessels so that they can carry more blood throughout the body.
The increased rush of blood helps remove the water trapped inside your tissues to curb water retention.
10. Limit your salt intake
If your urine output decreases without any changes in the diet or other discernible factors, it could be due to excessive salt intake.
Your body has to maintain a balance between sodium and water for optimum functioning. If you consume a lot of sodium, your body will start conserving water to balance it out, which will inadvertently reduce your overall urine output. (13)
The excess water will get stored in the tissue rather than being excreted, causing bloating or edema.
To avoid this, you must cut down your salt intake from 10 to 5 grams per day. Avoid items with added salt such as packaged meats, processed cheese, frozen meals, canned soups, and junk foods.
At the same time, consume more diuretic foods and drinks that help increase urine production.
Here are some extra tips to keep your bladder healthy and facilitate urine flow:
- Don’t resist the urge to urinate for long durations.
- Stay active and exercise regularly.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Avoid constipation.
- Quit smoking.
- Avoid carbonated beverages, tomato-based items, artificial sweeteners, and spicy foods, all of which can exacerbate your bladder problems.
Causes of Low Urine Output
Oliguria is a medical term that refers to low urine output (less than 400 mL a day for adults). (2) Many different disorders can reduce urination below normal, and not all of them are a cause of concern.
Dehydration due to inadequate fluid intake on a regular basis is the most common culprit behind oliguria, (2) but it can also stem from the following conditions:
- Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), also called prostate gland enlargement
- Kidney failure, which triggers chronic oliguria, commonly observed in patients on long-term dialysis
- Urinary stones
- Blood loss
- Acute tubular necrosis (ATN) due to ischemia and nephrotoxic substances, including drugs (e.g., gentamicin, kanamycin, mercury, cisplatin) and radiographic contrast agents
- Gastrointestinal fluid loss due to severe diarrhea or vomiting
How Does a Doctor Diagnose This Problem?
The urologist usually asks the following questions:
- Is there an obvious prerenal cause? This is usually determined by checking the patient’s hydration level and vital signs.
- Is urine being produced? The urologist may then check the specific gravity of urine to look for the presence of casts, test for myoglobinuria, and order a urine culture.
- Is there ureteric obstruction? USG is the easiest way to find it.
- Have you recently taken any medicine? This is to find out if the patient is taking any medication that can decrease urine output as a side effect, in which case the doctor may change the medication or lower its dosage. Common drugs that cause oliguria are gentamicin, kanamycin, and cisplatin.
Most importantly, the urologist will assess if your condition is s a progression toward renal failure or progression of a chronic state.
Do Kegel Exercises Help Improve Urine Output?
Kegel exercises will help to strengthen the muscles that regulate urine flow. (14) Kegel exercises, which strengthen the pelvic floor and improve continence and urinary flow, can benefit both men and women.
Kegel exercises can be done anywhere. Simply follow these steps:
- Squeeze the muscles that stop your flow midstream while urinating; these are the muscles you want to isolate. Avoid squeezing other muscles such as your abs, legs, or buttocks. Concentrate solely on flexing your pelvic floor.
- Tense those muscles for 5 seconds, and then relax. This should be done several times in a row.
- Build up gradually to holding the contraction for 10 seconds and then resting for 10 seconds. Every day, try to do three sets of 10 repetitions.
The exercise can be performed in any position.
Low urine output can be the result of many different factors that may require different treatments, but diuretics are the most commonly used agents for increasing urination. They stimulate the excretion of water and sodium from the body through the kidneys.
You can get them in the form of medication, but there are natural alternatives available as well that can offer similar effects minus the side effects.
This article has listed some natural diuretics along with other tips and therapies that have helped people increase their urine output without medication, but you must consult your doctor if the problem persists or gets worse despite these interventions.