Lower urinary tract symptoms are common and occur for a variety of reasons, from physical obstructions to excessive caffeine consumption. Treatment will depend on what’s causing your symptoms.

Dysfunction in the lower urinary tract can cause a host of symptoms like infections, difficulty peeing, or a constant feeling that you need to empty your bladder.

Lower urinary tract symptoms, sometimes abbreviated as LUTS, are very common. According to 2017 research, about half of men and nearly 60 percent of women have issues with urine storage in particular.

That might mean that the bladder feels full even when it’s not. It could also mean that something is blocking your bladder or other parts of the urinary tract system and causing issues.

Here’s what to know about lower urinary tract symptoms as well as potential causes, diagnosis, and treatment.

Lower urinary tract symptoms can include:

  • a feeling that you can’t empty your bladder completely, especially if you have a prostate
  • a bladder that seems to fill up very quickly
  • a very frequent or constant urge to urinate that’s difficult to manage
  • urinating accidentally (especially when sneezing, coughing, etc.)
  • high volumes of urine
  • a weak or delayed urine stream
  • strained urination

Potential causes of lower urinary tract symptoms include:

Other factors associated with a higher chance of experiencing lower urinary tract symptoms include:

If you’re experiencing lower urinary tract symptoms, a healthcare professional will typically start by doing a physical exam. They’ll also ask you several questions about your:

  • symptoms, including how long you’ve had them
  • underlying medical conditions
  • medications or substances you use
  • lifestyle habits
  • family medical history

They might employ various tests or assessments, including:

  • urinalysis to check for signs of infection
  • blood tests, especially if they suspect a prostate-related issue
  • uroflowmetry and post-void residual tests, which measure the volume, strength, and pressure of your bladder and urine
  • rectal exam to examine the prostate
  • ultrasounds to examine the bladder, kidneys, and/or prostate
  • kidney function tests
  • cystoscopy, which involves using a small tube and tiny camera to inspect your bladder, urethra, and surrounding organs

Lower urinary tract symptoms are fairly common and not always a reason for serious concern. Still, addressing even mild symptoms can reverse the condition or prevent it from worsening.

Treatment for lower urinary tract symptoms is especially recommended when they affect your day-to-day quality of life.

The treatment type will depend on what’s causing your symptoms and how they affect you.

Your healthcare professional may recommend lifestyle changes as a first-line treatment. Examples include:

  • limiting nicotine, alcohol, or caffeine intake
  • strengthening your pelvic floor muscles
  • setting a schedule to go to the bathroom at specific times
  • changing or modifying any medications you take
  • changing the amount of liquids you consume or when you consume them
  • losing weight if you’re overweight or have obesity
  • reducing stress and anxiety

Other treatments include:

In some cases, medications may be prescribed, including:

  • antibiotics to treat infections
  • 5-alpha reductase inhibitors, such as dutasteride (Avodart)
  • alpha-blockers, such as alfuzosin (Uroxatral), which can help relax your bladder
  • antihypertensives, such as doxazosin (Cardura), which relax your blood vessels and can help manage an enlarged prostate
  • bladder antispasmodics, such as oxybutynin (Ditropan), which help reduce bladder spasms

In cases of moderate to severe lower urinary tract symptoms, surgery may be necessary. If there’s an obstruction like a tumor, fibroids, or enlarged prostate, a healthcare professional may recommend surgery to remove the obstruction.

Surgery might also be recommended if you experience:

Specific surgeries might include:

Lower urinary tract symptoms are common and can be a sign of many things, from physical obstructions to excessive caffeine consumption.

If lower urinary tract symptoms are interfering with your quality of life, treatment is recommended. Depending on the type and severity of your symptoms, a doctor may recommend lifestyle changes, pelvic floor exercises, medication, or surgical intervention.