Urine quantity

All information on the topic of urine quantity

At a glance

Daily urine production depends on the intake of fluids and on a person’s physical activity. It varies from an average of 1L to 1.5L per 24 hours.

Further information

Deviations up or down:

If no urine or less than 100 ml is excreted per 24 hours, this is called anuria.

If less than 500 ml of urine is excreted per day, it is called oliguria.

Very large amounts of urine, i.e. more than 3.5 to 4 litres of urine per day, are medically referred to as polyuria.

With decreased urine excretion, the first possible cause is lack of fluid. Someone consumes too much liquid in relation to their drinking amount. This can happen, for example, in athletes or people who do heavy physical work (e.g. construction workers, metallurgical workers), especially at high temperatures. But even if the person concerned simply drinks too little, e.B. because his body does not indicate thirst, a lack of fluid arises.

Especially older people often lose the feeling of thirst and then gradually slip unconsciously into a lack of fluid. If these reasons for a reduced amount of urine are excluded, the cause may be in the area of the kidneys. Renal insufficiency is a possible cause,i.e. the failure of the kidneys to perform their tasks. Then the production of urine decreases. Another cause of too little urine can be that although enough urine is produced, the outflow is disturbed. Kidney stones,an enlarged prostate or a narrowing of the urethra are possible reasons for this.

Another possible cause of low amounts of urine during the day may be a disorder of the cardiovascular system. In a heart failure, the body stores more water in the tissue instead of excreting it. This often happens mainly in the legs. If the affected person then lays down to sleep at night and stores his legs higher, the pent-up liquid can be removed from the legs. As a result, heart patients often have to go to the toilet several times a night to urinate.

If someone excretes more than three litres of urine a day, this is called polyuria. Has been drunk a lot, especially diuretic drinks such as coffee, black tea or alcohol, an increased amount of urine is normal. Other causes should definitely be clarified. Often very large amounts of urine are excreted, and the patient also feels constant urge to urinate and strong thirst. In addition, patients show signs of fluid loss such as dry skin, lips and eyes.

The most common causes of increased urine production are:

  • Diabetes mellitus (type I and II): The body excretes large amounts of urine, in which a lot of glucose is typically found. If too much sugar is in the blood, glucose is excreted via the kidneys with the urine. Patients with unrecognized or poorly adjusted diabetes mellitus experience a correspondingly strong thirst due to the large water loss and drink a lot (polydipsia)
  • Diabetes insipidus: In this disease, a part of the control circuit that controls the water balance is disturbed. This leads to an increased excretion of water via the kidneys
  • A disturbed electrolyte balance is another possible cause. The body tries to compensate for this by increasing the excretion of water. Polyuria occurs with a very salty diet, too much calcium or too little potassium in the blood
  • Chronic renal insufficiency: when the kidneys are no longer able to concentrate the urine and thus much more water is excreted than in healthy kidneys
  • After acute kidney failure,when the kidneys function again and produce a lot of urine as compensation
  • Tumors in the area of the posterior hypothalamus, a part of the brain that regulates the body’s water balance
  • Drugsthat have a flooding effect (diuretics)
  • Bartter syndrome, a hereditary defect in a section of the kidneys


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  • Deutsche Gesellschaft für Kinder- und Jugendmedizin. Diabetes insipidus neurohormonalis. AWMF No. 027-031, Retrieved on 18.06.2019
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  • Smole, D. et al. (2008): Hypernatremie bei diabetes insipidus renalis, Schweiz Med Forum, 104-106
  • Oehri, I. et al. (2010): Polyurie, Polydipsie und Kopfschmerzen, Schweiz Med Forum, 513–515
  • Thiel, R. et al. (2001): Postobstruktive Polyurie bei unilateraler Harnstauung, Urologe,133-136
  • Chirurgie Portal: Polyurie, URL: https://www.chirurgie-portal.de/symptome/polyurie.html, Retrieved 18.06.2019
Status of information: Spring 2020