Ask the Experts: If I Have Incontinence, Should I Drink Less Water to Stop Leaking?
It may seem like a good idea to limit what you drink when you have bladder problems such as uncomfortable urine leakage. Most people want to try anything to prevent an accident! While this may help a little, it can also cause dehydration. Drinking less water makes your urine more concentrated. Dark, concentrated urine can irritate your bladder and make urinary frequency, urgency and leaks worse. With concentrated urine, leaks smell worse too, which can be even more embarrassing.
The trick is to drink enough water to stay hydrated, but be smart about when you drink. Most people need about eight, eight-ounce cups of fluid per day. That’s about two liters. If you drink a lot more than this, you will have to go to the bathroom more often, which will also increase the chances of having an accident. You can use the color of your urine as a guide: your urine should be light yellow. If it is, that means you are well hydrated. If your urine starts to look dark golden yellow, it’s a sign you’re not drinking enough, and are pretty dehydrated. Dehydration can lead to other problems too, such as kidney stones and recurrent urinary tract infections.
Rather than cutting back on fluids, consider when and what you drink. The goal is to spread out your fluids evenly throughout the day to stay hydrated on a regular basis. Limiting fluids an hour or more before bedtime will help prevent unwanted trips to the bathroom during the night. Also, some beverages can stimulate the bladder, such as caffeine and alcohol, and can lead to more bladder problems and leaks. Water is great, but you can drink other healthy beverages too. Generally, at least half of the liquids you drink during the day should be water.
Keeping a bladder diary can help you to see where some habits might be making things harder for you. It can help you pay attention to your fluid intake and voiding pattern, and help you to see where you can make changes that can help.
Dr. Suzette E. Sutherland, the Director of Female Urology at the University of Washington Pelvic Health Center, focuses on female urology to include urinary incontinence and voiding dysfunction, pelvic prolapse and reconstructive surgery, pelvic floor disorders and female sexual dysfunction.
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