Drinking water to help manage urinary incontinence may seem counter-intuitive, but it's sound advice that can actually help.
It may be natural to assume that drinking an absolute minimum of fluids will curb incontinence, but that's an unhealthy and counterproductive tactic. Most physicians agree that the adult human body requires from 50 to 60 ounces of fluid a day to stay well-hydrated and healthy. Drastically reducing fluid intake can lead to dehydration, an uncomfortable, unhealthy, and downright dangerous condition.
Symptoms of Dehydration
Even a mild case of dehydration can produce a host of uncomfortable symptoms, including thirst, headaches, dry, flaky skin, and a sticky "parched" feeling in the mouth. Over even a relatively brief period, dehydration can also lead to constipation, muscle weakness, irritability and confusion, and an unshakable feeling of tiredness and general fatigue.
Severe dehydration can result in rapid or irregular heartbeat, low blood pressure, fever, and even delerium or unconsciousness.
Drinking too little actually makes incontinence management more difficult Though it's absolutely true that drinking less will result in a lower output of urine, the urine that is produced will be more concentrated - darker, more viscous, and with a stronger smell. These changes make incontinence management even more of a challenge; leakage is more visible, dealing with soiled pads and garments is more unpleasant, and odor control is harder and more worrisome.
Over time highly concentrated urine can also be irritating to the bladder, which makes it more sensitive and can actually increase incontinence episodes. Concentrated urine may even encourage the growth of bacteria, which can lead to infections of the bladder and urinary system.
Staying well-hydrated is crucial for everyone, but it's particularly important for people who experience incontinence. A healthy sufficiency of the right fluids won't lead to the production of an excessive amount of urine, and the urine that is produced will be more diulted, less irritating to the bladder, lighter in color and texture, and will have much less odor.
OK - But why water? I prefer coffee or soda!
When it comes to maintaining hydration, water is absolutely the best choice: keeping the body hydrated is precisely what water does, and it does the job better than just about any other liquid.
Water does an excellent job of diluting urine, and it has no calories, salt, sugar, or additives that can wreak havoc on diet. It is also non-irritating, and will actually flush irritants from the bladder.
Beverages such as coffee, tea, and soda generally contain caffeine, which is a known bladder irritant that can lead to increased urination. The carbonation in soda may also be a bladder irritant, so the more soda you drink, the great the chance of incontinence episodes.
Pace your water consumption throughout the day Drinking water regularly throughout the day makes sense, both in terms of maintaining healthy body hydration and for incontinence management; it's bestr to drink a cup of water every couple of hours. Down a large amount of water or any beverage at one time (for instance, after exercise) stretches the bladder and greatly increases the odds of incontinence problems.
If night wetness is a problem, it helps to gradually decrease liquid consumption as bedtime nears.