Scanty Urination (Oliguria): Causes, Symptoms, and How to Treat It

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Scanty urinationThere are some things that we can all relate to regardless of where we live, how we were raised, or what our paycheck says. And one of those things is peeing. We all have to pee every day. Given the state of technology, there’s a good chance you are peeing while you reading this. But what happens when your pee volume decreases? Scanty urination is medically known as oliguria, and can become a real problem.

You may wonder how much urine is a normal amount or how little urine qualifies as oliguria. Don’t worry; we’ve got your back. Here, you will learn all the basics behind scanty urine. From the scanty urination definition, to scanty urination causes, to oliguria symptoms and oliguria treatment, we’ll cover all of the basics. By the end, you will have a better idea of what oliguria means and how it can affect your health.

Scanty Urination (Oliguria) Causes

So, what causes oliguria? What could possibly decrease your urine output? Well, there are a number of reasons why you might experience oliguria. Those causes can include:

1. Dehydration

The most common reason for the shortage of urine is a lack of fluids. This dehydration can be caused by the reduced intake of liquids while the body expels the minerals and fluids that it needs. Excessive diarrhea and vomiting, for example, can cause the loss of essential liquids and nutrients leading to smaller amounts of urine.

2. Urinary Tract Obstruction

In some cases, you are not peeing as much as usual due to an obstruction in your urinary tract. Beyond the lack of urination, urinary tract obstructions can also cause pain, nausea, vomiting, fever, and swelling.

3. Medications

There are many medications that can produce less urination, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), high blood pressure medications, and certain antibiotics like and gentamicin.

4. Infections

Inflammation caused by some infections can affect urination, and a severe infection could cause the body to go into a state of shock that also impacts urine volume.

5. Kidney Failure

While not an everyday occurrence, failing kidneys will influence urine production as one of the primary functions of the kidneys is to filter blood and eliminate waste from the body through urine.

These are some of the more common causes of oliguria, but it’s equally important to recognize the symptoms that come with the issue.

6. Oliguria Symptoms

Oliguria’s basic symptoms are pretty easy to recognize. Scanty urination is mainly characterized by the decrease or lack of urine and urination. However, oliguria can also cause flu-like symptoms nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and fever. In addition to these, you may suffer from symptoms of the underlying causes, especially those of a more serious nature like kidney failure. But with the symptoms recognized, the next step is the diagnosis.

Oliguria Diagnosis

Despite the obvious nature of the symptoms of oliguria, a doctor will still want to go over a few things before confirming a diagnosis. A review of your recent medical history and questions about your hydration will likely be included: How often do you drink? About how much fluid do you take in per day? Next, the doctor will focus on your urine. They will want to know when you noticed the decrease in volume or, if it has stopped completely, when it stopped and how long the period between the decreased production and total stoppage lasted.

After the discussion, a number of tests may be performed, including an analysis of urine that you are able to produce. CT scans, renal scans, blood tests, and abdominal ultrasounds may be used in an effort to determine the functionality of your kidneys. Once a full diagnosis is made, the doctor can recommend a proper course of treatment.

Oliguria Treatment

Following a diagnosis, the doctor will begin to recommend treatments. The first concern will be the underlying cause of the oliguria, whether it is kidney issues, the flu, etc. In many cases, once these causes are treated, the oliguria will go away on its own. In severe cases of oliguria, IV treatment may be necessary to get fluids into your system and kick-start your urine production. But, if your particular type of oliguria is just a decrease in urination, there are a few things you can do to get the pee flowing.

1. Proper Hydration

Start drinking more water and other healthy liquids to keep you properly hydrated. When this is achieved, you may find that your urine production has returned to normal levels.

2. Diuretics

A diuretic can also help you increase your urine production. These can be medical prescriptions like water pills, but there are countless natural diuretics that can help as well. Fruits and vegetables such as pineapple, blueberries, cucumbers, and cherries can help with urine creation as can food and drinks containing caffeine. Herbal teas like ginger, dandelion, juniper, hawthorn, horsetail and stinging nettle may help as well.

3. Cranberry Juice

Cranberry juice could help you in a few ways. It is often used as a diuretic and to help clear up urinary tract infections.  Cranberry juice is also used to help with kidney infections.

4. Coconut Water

Coconut water is known for its urine-related properties as it can not only help with hydration but also can help urine flow smoothly.

Keep in mind that these should only be used at your doctor’s discretion and in accordance with the treatment plan. Always follow your doctor’s orders, especially if the issues are something serious like kidney failure.

Pay Attention to Your Urine!

For the most part, we all take urination for granted until it stops or becomes painful. Oliguria is not necessarily a serious issue. As you can see, there are plenty of ways to get the urine flowing, and many of them are completely natural. But there are cases where oliguria is the symptom of a much larger issue. Pay attention to your urine. If you notice that the volume is getting lower, go see a doctor. It may be something as simple as needing to keep yourself better hydrated. However, if it has something to do with your kidneys, the sooner you can get it treated, the less damage can be done to your organs.

PUP, “Scanty Urination: Home Remedies And Causes of Scanty Urination,” Tandurust, August 24, 2010;, last accessed May 25, 2017.