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Can Dehydration Cause Overactive Bladder

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Alcohol And The Bladder

Traveling and Overactive Bladder

Alcohol is a powerful diuretic, and this means that even a few drinks can increase your urine production, and the frequency at which you need to pass urine. You have likely experienced this at the pub after drinking a few pints! Your urge to use the toilet will probably ramp up pretty quickly.Normally you empty your bladder 4 to 6 times per day, and you should be careful to empty it completely in order to prevent bladder and kidney infections. Ideally, you should drink enough water so that your urine is clear. However, when you drink alcohol, the excess urine production can lead to dehydration and much more concentrated urine. It is not uncommon for this urine to appear dark yellow, or even brown in colour.

What Is Frequent Urination

Frequent urination means that you have to urinate more often than you usually do.1,3 This symptom can result from an overactive bladder or a weak bladder. Frequent urination is a symptom that affects both men and women. When a patient needs to urinate frequently at night, the medical term is nocturia.

On average, a healthy adult generally needs to urinate around 4 to 8 times during a day. Talk with your healthcare provider if you need to urinate more often than that on a daily basis, or if you find yourself needing to urinate more often every day than you usually do.

Causes Of Overactive Bladder

Most causes of the overactive bladder have to do with disrupted communication between your signaling mechanism and your bladder muscles or muscle spasms that take place in your bladder.

Your kidneys are responsible for filtering out minerals and nutrients from your blood, and so they produce waste in the form of urine. The urine then travels to your bladder, where it is stored until your brain sends the appropriate signals for your detrusor muscle to contract and your urinary sphincter to relax. This is how our bodies know when to urinate.

When these signals get mixed up or when muscle spasms occur, this can confuse the nerves in your bladder and result in an overactive bladder. The signals are characterized as being urgent and intense, even when your bladder isnt full. For instance, most people can hold up to 2 cups of urine in their bladder before they have to urinate. For people with overactive bladder, you may get an urge to urinate with the same intensity as if your bladder was full, but it may only be half or less than half-way full.

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What Will Your Doctor Do

To find out the cause of frequent urination, your healthcare provider will probably carry out a physical exam and ask you questions about things that can cause you to urinate more frequently. For example, common causes of frequent urination include drinking more water or other beverages than usual, drinking alcoholic and caffeinated beverages, and taking certain types of medications . Your healthcare provider may also take a urine sample to perform a laboratory test called urinalysis to check for signs that you may have an infection that is causing the frequent urination.

Causes Of Temporary Urinary Incontinence

Propiverine hydrochloride vs previous anticholinergic ...

Alcohol and coffee act as bladder stimulants and diuretics, which can cause an overwhelming need to visit the bathroom.

Drinking too much fluid, especially in a short period of time, increases the amount of urine you have to hold, resulting in more frequent dashes to the toilet.

Dehydration from not drinking enough liquid can cause your urine to become very concentrated. This collection of concentrated salts can irritate your bladder and make incontinence worse.

Bladder irritation from drinking carbonated drinks, artificial sweeteners, tea and coffee . Foods can also irritate the bladder, especially if they contain high amounts of corn syrup, spices, sugar and acid, such as citrus or tomatoes.

Medications such as heart medications, blood pressure drugs, sedatives, muscle relaxants and other medications are known to sometimes be causes of incontinence.

Read Also: Treating Overactive Bladder In The Elderly

Alcohol Consumption And Constipation

  • Dehydration

It can seem a bit confusing to understand why alcohol dehydrates you after all, beer is mostly water! So is a tall vodka soda so what gives?

Well, when you drink a beer , you urinate and defecate out the amount of water in the beer, plus more. The alcohol messes with the water levels in your body, preventing your pituitary gland from producing ADH , something that prevents you from urinating. Alcohol stimulates your kidneys to produce even more urine, and you get dehydrated.

  • Peristalsis

We have already mentioned the contractions in your small intestine and bowel that cause you to have a bowel movement. Peristalsis is necessary in order to effectively propel food through the digestive track. As alcohol is a depressant, it dampens the nerves needed to cause the process to happen. Chronic drinkers will find that they will experience constipation far more often than those who avoid overconsumption.

When you are drinking you are often more tempted to treat yourself with fatty fried foods, high carb meals and decadent sweets all of which can lead to constipation on their own. If you are planning to have a few drinks, make sure you eat a healthy meal beforehand. A stomach full of wholesome food will prevent the alcohol from absorbing too quickly into your bloodstream. Ideally, it will also prevent you from pigging out on junk food!

  • The bacteria in our gut

Incontinence Pads And Underwear

Absorbent pads sold specifically for urinary incontinence can help a person stay dry and odor-free during the day or night. Incontinence pads are made for men as well as for women.

A lot of people use menstrual pads or adult diapers for urinary incontinence, and these can be embarrassing and uncomfortable, notes Kaplan. Next to the menstrual supplies in drugstores and supermarkets, there is usually a whole section dedicated to urinary incontinence, she says.

A variety of companies now make absorbent washable underwear for incontinence, primarily in womens styles and sizes, although mens absorbent underwear is also available.

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Social Emotional And Physical Consequences Of Bladder Dysfunction

Many people with MS arent aware that bladder dysfunction is an MS-related issue and dont bring it up with their doctors, says Tamara B. Kaplan, MD, a neurologist at Brigham and Womens Hospital in Boston.

Another big problem is that doctors dont always talk about bladder dysfunction with their patients. It is an embarrassing and uncomfortable situation and can have a major effect on quality of life, says Dr. Kaplan. Ive had patients who dont want to leave their home because they are afraid that they will have an accident. It can be emotionally and socially isolating.

Untreated bladder issues may also lead to loss of self-confidence and independence, according the National MS Society.

Left untreated, bladder dysfunction can lead to bladder infections or kidney damage, according to Cedars Sinai Health System. The excess moisture caused by urine leakage can also make irritation and yeast infections more likely, per MedlinePlus.

Bladder dysfunction can also lead to constipation, bowel urgency, and bowel incontinence, especially when people try to self-treat by not drinking enough water, says Kaplan.

Both bladder and bowel problems can also cause sexual dysfunction. You may be worried about having a bladder accident or feel uncomfortable because you are constipated, says Kaplan. When people have bladder incontinence, they may not emotionally feel they can engage in sexual activity, she adds.

Bladder dysfunction can also cause problems with sleep, says Epstein.

Anything That Makes You Constipatedor The Opposite

What causes overactive bladder and what can be done about it?

Constipation is not fun for anyone, but it can be particularly aggravating for people with OAB since the colon lies right on the bladder. And the bladder is close to the small intestine, so if its full or constipated, that can put extra pressure on the bladder, Dr. Linehan says, making it even more difficult to urinate. And diarrhea can also irritate the bladder, she says, increasing the frequency of urinating. So, its best to avoid foods and drinks that may cause either constipation or diarrhea .

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What Medications Can I Use For Overactive Bladder

Your doctor may suggest trying behavioral techniques before having you use a medication to treat overactive bladder. However, medications can work very well to return normal function to the bladder. Ask your doctor about the risks and benefits of using the following commonly prescribed medications:

Anticholinergic medications

These medications control muscle spasms in the bladder:

  • Oxybutynin , oxybutynin XL , oxybutynin TDDS .
  • Tolterodine .
  • Mirabegron .

Upper Urinary Tract Infections

The persistent stress placed on the bladder from years of muscular contractions can induce structural changes to the bladder itself, including:

  • Trabeculated bladder: In which the bladder is no longer able to expand when filled or contract when emptied
  • Bladder diverticulum: In which weakened parts of the bladder wall start to thin and form pouches

These conditions often co-occur and are both associated with an increased risk of upper urinary tract infections .

With a trabeculated bladder, the loss of muscle tone can cause urine to reflux into the kidneys and establish an infection . With a bladder diverticulum, the same can occur due to bladder outlet obstruction.

In rare cases, a bladder diverticulum can cause the organ to rupture, requiring emergency surgery.

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How To Stay Hydrated

Getting a sufficient amount of fluids throughout the day shouldnt have to be difficult. There are a few simple tips that will keep you hydrated and help you avoid an irritated bladder.

  • Be sure to drink fluids with every snack and meal. At breakfast, lunch, dinner and every little snack in between, ensure that youre complementing each meal with a glass of water.
  • Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Drinking water isnt the only way to keep hydrated. There a lot of fruits and vegetables with high water content that will add to your hydration. In fact, about 20% of your fluid intake comes from food. Some fruits and veggies contain as much as 90% water! So, your favorite healthy snack can be a great way to keep your level of body fluids high. Here are the top fruits by H2O content:
  • Always have a bottle of water with you. Whether its at your desk, in your car or in your bag, the easiest way to get enough water is to constantly be sipping. Make it a habit!

Brit + Co have come up with even more refreshingly delicious ways to stay hydrated by sprucing up your water. To get inspired, read on here.

Looking for some more tips on how keep your fluid intake game on point? Try some of these:

Talk To Your Doctor About Medication

Dehydration and incontinence: Whatâs the connection ...

If you have tried the aforementioned lifestyle modifications, and continue to have significant symptoms, Peitzman recommends asking your doctor about medication.

According to Poston, anticholinergics are one of the most common types of medications used to treat an overactive bladder.

These medications reduce the tone or twitchiness of the smooth muscle that lines the bladder, thereby increasing its capacity and reducing the urge to urinate. However, it’s important to note that anticholinergics may cause dry mouth, as well as constipation, which can then trigger bladder symptoms.

The drop in estrogen that occurs after menopause can contribute to an overactive bladder but topical estrogen creams, which don’t typically have any side effects may be effective for relieving symptoms, says Peitzman.

If your symptoms haven’t responded to other medications, your doctor might recommend getting Botox injections into your bladder once or twice a year. Botox helps the bladder muscles to relax, thus reducing urgency and incontinence, says Poston.

Also Check: Losing Control Of Your Bladder

Should Those With Overactive Bladder Consume Caffeine

Unfortunately, caffeine is likely harmful to those with OAB. A 2010 study found that consuming excess caffeine increases the likelihood of urinary incontinence in women.

According to Jon Gleason, MD, of University of Alabama at Birmingham Medical School’s Division of Women’s Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery, Women who consume high levels of caffeine are 70% more likely to have urinary incontinence than women who don’t.

Gleasons study evaluated women who consumed approximately 329 milligrams off coffee per day, which is the equivalent of three cups per day. The study evaluated 1,356 women, ages 20 to 85, who had participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The study found no link between urinary incontinence and obesity, vaginal childbirth, and high intake of water. So, can someone with OAB symptoms safely drink a cup of coffee?

If you have a cough and have OAB, you’re probably looking for ways to prevent bladder leakage when coughing thankfully, there are three ways to do that.

The link between OAB symptoms and caffeine intake seems to be in the amount of caffeine consumed, although every person with OAB symptoms is unique.

Further research studies indicate that consuming caffeine in excess of 250 milligrams of caffeine per day irritates the bladder, causing symptoms. This is because caffeine is a diuretic, meaning that caffeine causes the kidneys to produce more urine.

The Effects Of Caffeine

Caffeine increases the amount of urine we produce and therefore can make dehydration worse. Limit your intake of caffeinated beverages such as tea coffee and cola or choose decaffeinated varieties. Fruit or Green teas are naturally lower in caffeine, and black tea contains less caffeine than coffee.

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What Causes An Overactive Thyroid Gland

The thyroid gland is found in the neck. It produces hormones that are released into the bloodstream to control the body’s growth and metabolism. These hormones are called thyroxine and triiodothyronine.

They affect processes such as heart rate and body temperature, and help convert food into energy to keep the body going.

In hyperthyroidism, the thyroid gland produces too much thyroxine or triiodothyronine, which speeds up the body’s metabolism.

There are several possible underlying causes, the most common being Graves’ disease, in which the body’s immune system targets the thyroid gland and causes it to produce too much of the thyroid hormones.

If I Reduce My Fluid Intake Will It Help

Overactive Bladder & Traveling

Some people think if they cut down on how much fluid they drink through the day they may reduce nocturia. This is not correct. Drinking too little can cause you to become dehydrated. Being dehydrated makes the urine stronger . This can upset the bladder and make you need to go to the toilet more often. Dehydration can also lead to constipation.

Avoid being dehydrated as it can also cause:

  • low blood pressure
  • more risk of falls as you get older especially at night.

Also Check: Causes Of Repeated Bladder Infections

How Is Urinary Incontinence Treated

There are number of options for treating urinary incontinence, some of which may be used in combination. If constipation is thought to be causing the urinary incontinence, the doctors may suggest reviewing what foods the child is eating and their toileting habits. They may also suggest managing the childs fluid intake for a while to see if this improves the incontinence. Medicines can be prescribed to reduce the sensitivity of the bladder or reduce the amount of urine produced by the body. Some medicines are best only given in short bursts to cover a special occasion as they can have side effects.

There are a number of behavioural interventions to help with urinary incontinence. These include bladder retraining, pelvic floor exercises and biofeedback training.

A fairly new form of treatment for urinary incontinence is tibial nerve stimulation, which involves passing a low electrical charge through a nerve in the ankle, which then relaxes the nerves controlling the muscles around the bladder.

In rare circumstances, surgery might be suggested to improve urinary incontinence. This could include injections into the sphincter to strengthen or relax it. Major surgery, for instance, if a childs bladder capacity is too small, an operation called a bladder augmentation might be suggested.

Lifestyle Changes For Bladder Health

Tension, diet, and being overweight can all contribute to urinary incontinence. The good news is that you can do something about all three:

  • Eat more vegetables and fiber. Fiber helps you avoid constipation, which may help reduce pressure on your bladder.
  • Reduce tension. Tense situations can make you to feel as if you need to pee. Deep breathing exercises are one of the tools that can ease tension.
  • Exercise. If you’re overweight, losing weight will keep extra pounds from adding to the pressure on your bladder. Exercise may aggravate stress incontinence, though.
  • Use good posture when you urinate. Sit back on the toilet. Donât lean forward, since this may put unwanted stress on the urethra and bladder.

Also Check: What Medications Cause Overactive Bladder

How Can Nocturia Be Treated

It is important to find the cause of nocturia. This allows the doctor to treat nocturia. The doctor can then refer you to the right specialist if needed. Some treatments could be:

  • cutting back on how much caffeine and alcohol you drink, especially in the evening and before going to bed
  • reviewing the times you take fluid tablets wearing support stockings for swollen ankles
  • resting with your legs up for a few hours in the afternoon or evening.

Other tips include:

  • lighting the path to the toilet
  • placing a commode or urinal to use next to your bed.

You may be referred to a continence nurse advisor or continence physiotherapist. Your doctor may also refer you to a specialist. The specialist will discuss other treatments with you. These may include medicines which treat the nocturia or medicines to treat the cause of the problem.

You might be referred to a medical specialist such as a:

  • Geriatrician
  • Renal physician.

Seek Help From A Qualified Physical Therapist


Vaginal childbirth can damage the ligaments, nerves, and pelvic floor muscles that support the vagina, bladder and urethra. While pelvic floor exercises may help some women after birth, many need more intensive physical therapy.

Talk to your doctor, who may refer you to a qualified physical therapist who specializes in pelvic floor therapy if you have any incontinence or pain that doesnt go away after giving birth. Embarking on proper rehabilitation soon after having your baby may help you avoid more serious gynecological problems later on.

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