Can drinking water help with incontinence?

Though it may sound counterintuitive, if you're living with urinary incontinence, drinking more water may help. You may be tempted to consume less liquid to reduce the urge to urinate; however, this can intensify your condition.

That’s because drinking less can lead to urine that’s more concentrated, higher in ammonia, and therefore aggravating to your bladder. When you hydrate correctly by drinking or sipping water throughout the day and stopping a couple of hours before bedtime, you may improve your incontinence symptoms.

A senior man drinking a glass of water

A senior man drinking a glass of water. Continually sipping or drinking up to eight ounces of plain water per day may help you improve incontinence symptoms.

Can Drinking More Water Help?

A senior man drinking a glass of water. Continually sipping or drinking up to eight ounces of plain water per day may help you improve incontinence symptoms.

If you’re living with urinary incontinence, you’re probably hesitant to drink water and other fluids as a way to prevent leaks and bathroom visits.

Yet, drinking water is a necessity of life. That’s because your body is full of fluids, and you constantly need to drink more to replace any that’s lost.}

Ways to Hydrate Properly: Drink Fluids Wisely

According to Urology Care Foundation experts, rather than reducing your fluid intake, focus on when and what you drink. They suggest that water should make up half the liquids you consume during the day. Also, spreading your fluid intake throughout the day will keep you hydrated and keep your bladder functioning properly.

Drinking Too Quickly or Too Much Fluid

You can overwhelm your bladder and cause a strong sense of urgency if you drink too much fluid too quickly. Similarly, if you drink too much, you’ll have to urinate more often. The goal is to consume enough water to remain hydrated and be smart about how and when you drink.

Most of us need about two liters, or eight, eight-ounce glasses of fluid a day. Drinking a lot more than this will increase your chances of having an accident. Reduce your intake throughout the day by, for example, drinking 16 ounces with your meals and eight-ounce glassfuls between your meals.

Even if you work outdoors or exercise a lot, you don’t need to drink your water or fluids all at once. And avoid carrying a large water bottle unless you’re exercising because you may be tempted to drink too much at one time.

If you’re having accidents or going to the bathroom many times throughout the night:

  • Keep in mind that your fluids also come from the foods you eat, like soup and certain fruits and vegetables.
  • Drink your water and fluids in the afternoon and morning instead of at night.

Avoid beverages that increase urine production, like alcohol and those with caffeine.

Drinking Too Little Fluid

You may think drinking less is a good idea for helping with incontinence; however, drinking too little fluid can cause body waste and toxins to build up in your urine. When this happens, your urine can irritate your bladder and exacerbate urinary urgency and frequency.

Use Your Urine Color as a Guide

Your concentrated urine will appear darker in color and have a strong odor. If you’re well-hydrated, your urine will be a light yellow. Though, if your urine looks golden yellow or darker, it may mean you're not drinking enough fluids, which can lead to dehydration.

Dehydration can cause other severe problems, including urinary tract infections and kidney stones. It can also lead to dizziness, headaches, and lack of concentration.

Reduce Nicotine, Caffeine, Plus Certain Food and Drinks

Nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol can irritate your bladder. Reducing your use of them can significantly reduce urge incontinence symptoms. Caffeine, in particular, is considered a diuretic, which means it helps your body reduce extra salt by causing you to urinate more frequently.

Besides nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol, the Mayo Clinic recommends limiting or eliminating these bladder-irritating foods and beverages to improve bladder control:

  • Chocolate
  • Carbonated drinks (even without caffeine)
  • Tea
  • Spicy foods
  • Acidic fruit juices and fruits, including grapefruits, oranges, lemons, and limes
  • Tomato-based foods and drinks

To see if your incontinence symptoms improve, try to eliminate these potential irritants to your bladder for about a week. Then, every couple of days, add an item back into your diet. Your body may be okay with merely cutting back on some of these foods or drinks rather than eliminating them entirely.

Consider keeping a journal to keep track of your bathroom breaks and note if your urinary incontinence improves.

Lifestyle Changes to Improve Your Health and Reduce Leakage

While you’ve likely learned to accept your incontinence, there are still ways to improve your health and reduce leakage. Some of those ways include:

  • Maintaining a healthy weight: Excessive weight can put pressure on your bladder and abdomen, and this can cause leaks. Talk to your doctor about a weight loss plan that works for you.
  • Remain active: Studies have indicated that ongoing physical activity increases bladder control. Try to do at least a half-hour of moderate, low-impact exercise about four days a week.
  • Quit smoking: Cigarette smokers are at a higher risk of bladder control issues and experiencing more severe symptoms. In addition, heavy smokers often develop an ongoing cough which can add to bladder pressure and worsen incontinence.
  • Do Kegel exercises: Squeezing the urinary sphincter and pelvic floor muscles that support your bladder may help control urination. Perform these exercises about three to four times a day while you’re standing, sitting, or lying down.
  • Add fiber to your diet: In addition to limiting or avoiding foods that may worsen incontinence, consider adding more fiber to your diet to prevent constipation. Straining during constipated bowel movements can damage your pelvic floor, leading to incontinence issues. Foods to alleviate constipation include beans, broccoli, almonds, brown rice, and oatmeal.

Drinking Water and Wearing Made for Living Underwear

Manage your overall health properly by drinking water throughout the day, eliminating nicotine, curbing unhealthy food, performing Kegels, and getting plenty of exercise. Doing these things regularly may help you reduce excess bladder leaks and issues that can weaken your pelvic floor muscles.

Additionally, wearing high-quality disposable absorbent underwear from Made for Living can help you maintain your active lifestyle. To help you find the underwear that fits you best, sign up for our subscription service and receive our welcome package with multiple sizes included.

To learn more, contact us or complete our online form today.

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