By Riva Preil
Sounds counterintuitive, right? Believe it or not, drinking adequate amounts of water, specifically 64 fluid ounces per day (= 8 cups of water) promotes bladder health and helps people with urinary incontinence. Urinary incontinence, the unintentional voiding of urine, can be related to bladder filling and storing deficiencies. Normally, the bladder (also known as the detrusor muscle) expands like a balloon as it fills with urine until the stretch receptors in the bladder send a message to your brain telling you, “Now I’m full, it’s time to go to the bathroom.” However, the foods and fluids we eat and drink affect the bladder’s ability to store urine. Drinking bladder irritants (ex. alcohol, coffee, caffeine, and carbonated beverages) can cause the detrusor muscle to involuntarily contract, thus causing urine leakage. These irritants can cause the bladder to contract even before it is entirely full. Therefore, if someone leaks urine it may be more related to their diet rather than to their bladder actually requiring to be emptied due to fullness. Therefore, it is crucial to load up on a NON-irritating, bladder healthy fluid- water- in order to flush out any potential irritants. This irritant dilution reduces the potential for involuntary detrusor contraction. Drinking MORE of bladder friendly water will allow for proper and complete filling and emptying of the bladder every 2.5 to 3 hours. If you or someone you know experiences urinary incontinence, a feeling of incomplete emptying of the bladder, or urinary frequency (voiding more than 8x/day or 0-1x/night), please speak to your doctor about pelvic floor therapy. It might be the perfect solution!