Bladder Leaks: To Cut Back Fluids or Not to Cut Back Fluids. That Is the Question.
If you experience bladder leaks, your first instinct might be to drink less fluid. Because more fluid leads to more leaks, right? Not always.
There are many lifestyle and underlying medical issues that can cause temporary or recurring urinary incontinence. So it’s important to work with your healthcare team to rule out potential triggers and health conditions and learn to safely manage your daily fluid intake.
Let’s talk about ways to get your bladder (and quality of life) back on track.
Monitor Fluids Safely
When you experience any form of urinary incontinence, it’s only natural to try and limit your fluid intake (especially before bed). No one likes to experience the urgency of needing to use the bathroom right now! You want to curb those rushed trips to the toilet. In most cases, there is nothing wrong with trying to limit fluid intake to see if that’s your culprit, but you need to make sure you don’t get dehydrated.
Hydration plays an important role in how our bodies function. Fluids, especially water, help your body flush out waste. This also removes bacteria from your bladder.
Monitoring fluid intake can be done safely. For example, if you’re drinking six 8-ounce glasses of water a day, eliminating one glass before bedtime shouldn’t be an issue. But if you cut back three or four glasses and have an underlying medical problem of which you are unaware, you can become dehydrated. Dehydration can unsafely lower your blood pressure, increase your risk for a urinary tract infection (UTI) and boost your chances for renal failure.
How do you know if you’re dehydrated? A few key indicators include:
- Dry eyes/mouth/skin
- Decrease in urine volume
- Darkening of urine color
- Strong urine odor
If you experience any of these symptoms, you may want to consider increasing your fluid intake.
Causes of Acute or Chronic Incontinence
There are many reasons you may experience urinary incontinence. But did you know some foods can be bladder irritants?
Yes, overly spicy or acidic foods, chocolate, even tea and coffee have been known to irritate the bladder and lead to overactivity.
It also happens that, sometimes, your overactive bladder can be due to a medical issue.
If you’ve cut back on spicy and acidic foods and monitored your fluid intake, but your condition doesn’t seem to improve, it’s time to see a doctor. Your physician can help determine if underlying conditions might exist that exacerbate acute or chronic incontinence.
Some of these conditions include:
- Neurological disorders
- Conditions affecting the bladder, such as tumors or bladder stones
- Factors that get in the way of urine leaving the bladder, such as enlarged prostate and even constipation
Recommended Fluid Intake
How much water should you drink?
The general recommendation for men is about 12.5 cups (100 ounces) of water a day. For women, it’s 9.25 cups (74 ounces) daily. If you’re on medications that cause water retention, you may need less water. If you work outside in hot conditions, you may need more water. Your water consumption needs are unique to you.
It’s easy to keep track of your water intake by simply logging what you drink and when.
Technology makes it simple and convenient to keep track of fluids. There are many apps available for your smartphones, smartwatches and fitness trackers that make hydration management as easy as pushing a button. You can find them through your app stores or ask your healthcare team for their recommendations.
Take Back Your Quality of Life
Waking up several times a night can be incredibly disruptive. Long drives can become complicated. Even short trips to the grocery store can make someone who suffers from bladder leakage anxious. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Talk to your doctor if you are experiencing any kind of acute or chronic incontinence that isn’t controlled by diet changes or fluid monitoring. Don’t be shy about the discussion – your doctor has seen and heard it all.
The sooner you begin to address it, the sooner you can get your quality of life back on track.
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