Dehydration Prevention, Reducing Liquids is Not the Answer to Incontinence

Drinking less can actually worsen urinary incontinence.
There are almost 25 million adult Americans who suffer from some degree of the medical condition incontinence. Urinary incontinence is quite frequent for both men and women. It stands to reason that if you have trouble with bladder control reducing liquids could help. This, however, is a fallacy. Drinking less water in order to avoid urinary incontinence can actually make incontinence worse, and to top it off, leads to dehydration.

How does drinking less worsen urinary incontinence? When you drink less, urine is more concentrated (darker), and it can cause the lining of the bladder, as well as the urethra, to become irritated, which can lead to worsened incontinence.

Studies have shown that those with incontinence may actually improve their symptoms by drinking more water. Two to three quarts a day, of water can help. Some fluids, like caffeine and alcohol, can worsen incontinence.  So go ahead and reduce those liquids.

Dehydration is a serious concern, especially for the incontinent. If you are worried about bladder control, and want to try and reduce the symptoms, consider the following approaches, rather than reduction of water:

1. Schedule toileting.  Those that suffer from incontinence can help themselves by going to the bathroom every two to three hours, putting their body on a regular schedule and helping themselves to stay dry. This is especially important for those with functional incontinence.

2. Limit water at specific times. It is important to not allow yourself to become dehydrated, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be smart about your fluid consumption. For example, if you suffer nighttime urinary incontinence, try to stop drinking any fluids two to three hours before bedtime. This will help you make it through the night dry.

3.  Strengthen pelvic muscles. The muscles that control the bladder can weaken, especially as we age, or after women have babies. Retrain those muscles, and rehabilitate them, strengthen them. This is done with pelvic muscle exercises like Kegels, and can be used in conjunction with other options like biofeedback therapy, vaginal weight training, and pelvic floor stimulation.

4. Medications. It is possible to help control the bladder with medications. Talk to your doctor about your incontinence and ask for help. On average men wait four years before talking to their doctor about bladder control problems, and women wait six. Stop waiting.

5. Hormones. If incontinence is caused by menopause of estrogen deficiency, a topical estrogen can help.

6. Surgery. This is an extreme option, but can help if other options are not working.

7. Try retraining the bladder. Scheduled toileting where you gradually increase the time between bathroom trips can help train the bladder. Bladder retraining has been proven effective for those with urge or mixed incontinence, helping the muscles learn to release on schedule, reducing incidents of accidents and leaking.

Do not stop drinking water in order to help your incontinence, instead, try other methods for reducing incontinence. 

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About The CareGiver Partnership. The CareGiver Partnership helps caregivers and their loved ones with answers to their caregiving questions, including information about home health care products and supplies, from our Wisconsin-based team of Product Specialists who are all current or former caregivers. The company’s Web site provides the largest online library of resources on subjects most important to caregivers — from arthritis to assisted living, and Parkinson’s to prostate cancer — as well as access to more than 3,000 home care products for incontinence, skin care, mobility, home safety and daily living aids. The CareGiver Partnership was founded in 2004 by Lynn Wilson of Neenah, Wisc. Visit to learn more or call 1-800-985-1353.


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