Decreased urine output means that you produce less urine than normal. Most adults make at least 500 mL of urine in 24 hours (a little over 2 cups).
Common causes include:
- Dehydration from not drinking enough fluids and having vomiting, diarrhea, or fever
- Total urinary tract blockage, such as from an enlarged prostate
- Medicines such as anticholinergics and some antibiotics
Less common causes include:
- Blood loss
- Severe infection or other medical condition that leads to shock
Drink the amount of fluid your health care provider recommends.
Your provider may tell you to measure the amount of urine you produce.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
A large decrease in urine output may be a sign of a serious condition. In some cases, it can be life threatening. Most of the time, urine output can be restored with prompt medical care.
Contact your provider if:
- You notice that you are producing less urine than usual.
- Your urine looks much darker than usual.
- You are vomiting, have diarrhea, or have a high fever and cannot get enough fluids by mouth.
- You have dizziness, lightheadedness, or a fast pulse with decreased urine output.
What to Expect at Your Office Visit
Your provider will perform a physical exam and ask questions such as:
- When did the problem start and has it changed over time?
- How much do you drink each day and how much urine do you produce?
- Have you noticed any change in urine color?
- What makes the problem worse? Better?
- Have you had vomiting, diarrhea, fever, or other symptoms of illness?
- What medicines do you take?
- Do you have a history of kidney or bladder problems?
Tests that may be done include:
- Abdominal ultrasound
- Blood tests for electrolytes, kidney function, and blood count
- CT scan of the abdomen (done without contrast dye if your kidney function is impaired)
- Renal scan
- Urine tests, including tests for infection
Molitoris BA. Acute kidney injury. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 112.
Riley RS, McPherson RA. Basic examination of urine. In: McPherson RA, Pincus MR, eds. Henry's Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods. 24th ed. Elsevier; 2022:chap 29.
Weisbord SD, Palevsky PM. Prevention and management of acute kidney injury. In: Yu ASL, Chertow GM, Luyckx VA, Marsden PA, Skorecki K, Taal MW, eds. Brenner and Rector's The Kidney. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 29.
Review Date 7/26/2021
Updated by: Kelly L. Stratton, MD, FACS, Associate Professor, Department of Urology, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, OK. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.