It seems counterintuitive to suggest that drinking more water would reduce symptoms of incontinence. Drinking more fluids seems like it could worsen the condition. However, most urologists say not drinking enough water could actually irritate your bladder and aggravate incontinence.
When you don't drink enough water, levels of urea, sodium, potassium, and chloride in urine increase. High concentrations of minerals in urine are what make it dark yellow and odorous. Mild dehydration can also cause excess urea (a byproduct of the body metabolizing protein). This forces the kidneys to work harder to filter out unwanted byproducts from the bloodstream.
In other words, drinking water for incontinence to maintain normal hydration can help decrease bladder irritation, stress on kidney functioning, and the frequent urgency to urinate. This is similar to a bladder or urinary tract infection. They both create an urge in you to urinate all the time. Being dehydrated from not drinking enough water typically exacerbates leakage and the need to urinate.
Drinking Water for Incontinence: How Much Water Should You Drink?
Everybody has heard the old adage that you should drink eight glasses of water every day to stay properly hydrated. But how much of that is true?
According to the American Physiological Society, the answer is that it depends.
How many glasses of water you actually need to drink every day to avoid becoming dehydrated depends on factors such as your general health, age, and lifestyle. Environmental aspects like high humidity and hot temperatures will promote a more rapid loss of body fluids through sweating. On the flip side, low humidity and a dry climate will also cause a loss of fluid through evaporation. These all naturally elevate the risk of dehydration if you don't drink enough water to replace fluid loss. Medications like antihistamines, diuretics, and antidiabetics raise the risk of dehydration by depleting fluid reserves within the body.
Decreasing your water consumption to control incontinence may negatively impact your overall health. Mild or moderate dehydration can cause:
- Less frequent urination
- Dark yellow or brownish-yellow urine
- Urine with an ammonia odor
- Heart palpitations
- Brain fog/confusion
- Constant thirst
When you don't drink enough water, you're basically forcing your body to demand that you drink more. In addition, dehydration interferes with the optimal functioning of all major organs. For example, the heart has to work harder to pump thicker-than-normal blood throughout the body, potentially resulting in palpitations. Dehydration also diminishes electrolyte levels, which promotes palpitations and dizziness as well.
How do you know if you're drinking enough water? Doctors point to three ways you can be confident your body is hydrated enough to prevent health problems:
- Drink water during meals
- Drink water during and after rigorous exercise
- Drink water if you're thirsty
When you feel thirsty, that's your body's way of telling you that you're becoming dehydrated.
How to Drink Water While Managing Incontinence
Now that you know it's not good for your health to avoid fluids for the purpose of improving incontinence symptoms, here are some tips on drinking water for incontinence.
Water Isn't the Only Consumable to Keep You Hydrated
If you're tired of drinking plain water, you can get sufficient fluids from eating watermelon, grapes, spinach, and just about any fresh fruit or vegetable. Milk, tea, juice, unsweetened sports drinks containing electrolytes, and flavored water also help maintain adequate hydration.
Reduce Your Intake of Spicy and Salty Foods
The natural reaction to spicy foods is to reach for water to extinguish the burning happening inside your mouth. Unfortunately, water will do nothing to help your cause. Instead of soothing the sensation, water will likely spread it to other parts of your mouth and body. You should drink milk or consume other dairy products to alleviate the pain.
Along the same lines, an excess of salty foods will require additional water to flush out the sodium content. Processed foods contain a lot of salt, so it's best to eat more whole and natural foods. Actually, it's best to keep both spicy and salty foods to a minimum, as the increased fluid consumption will upset the natural level of hydration you want to maintain in your body.
Spread Out Hydration Moments Evenly
Don't skip drinking something in the morning and then try to make up for it by drinking a lot in the afternoon. This doesn't help regulate fluid levels and will naturally increase incontinence issues later in the day. Try to evenly spread out your hydration throughout the day. You can even pick up a measured and labeled water bottle to help provide both reminders and motivation.
Minimize Sugary Drinks
Keep track of how many caffeinated or sugary carbonated drinks you consume throughout the day. Both types of drinks are bladder irritants that may increase your risk of bladder infection and produce the urge to urinate more frequently.
Track Your Fluid Flow
Learn your ideal intake of fluids by keeping a diary of when you drink something and when you urinate. Also, check your urine for these signs of dehydration:
- Dark yellow color
- Strong odor
- Reduced amount of urine compared to normal
Note any of these in a diary or journal. If you think you might be slightly dehydrated, start drinking more fluids. Write down what kind of beverage you drink and when you drink it. If your urine becomes light yellow in color and doesn't smell as strong, stick with the number of beverages you are drinking to achieve good hydration.
Ways to Combat the Impact of Incontinence
Compromising your health by not drinking enough water should never be an option for individuals with incontinence issues. Nexwear offers reliable options available for managing incontinence discreetly and hygienically. For example, our line of protective underwear offers a leak-free fit, an extra absorbent anti-leak barrier, and a breathable skin shield that keeps you feeling fresh and dry.
Our Nexwear bladder pads come in a variety of padding thicknesses to accommodate your incontinence needs. Whether your incontinence is light, medium, or heavy, our comfortable bladder pads provide the assurance you want with remarkably absorbent, dependable, and odor-resistant features.
Incontinence should never keep you homebound. If you've ever worried about taking that trip you've always wanted to take, check out our eco-travel/disposable pouches for discreet disposal of bladder pads anywhere, anytime. These large pouches also provide moisture-wicking and odor control and come with a strong, adhesive strip for secure sealing.
For more information or to inquire about Nexwear products, contact us today.