Managing your incontinence
When you find yourself racing to the toilet with a frequent, urgent need to urinate, it’s tempting to cut back on what you drink. Discover the best drinks to stay hydrated and continent.
When you find yourself racing to the toilet with a frequent, urgent need to urinate, it’s tempting to cut back on what you drink. After all, if there’s less going in, there’s less that can come out.
Dehydration is not good for you though, especially in a hot country like Australia. So, instead of drinking less, try drinking differently – changing what you drink may help ease symptoms of incontinence and enable you to remain well-hydrated.
The importance of hydration
Your body and brain need water. That’s especially true if:
- It’s a hot day
- You’re exercising
- You’re pregnant or breastfeeding.1
Yes, if you drink less, you’ll need the toilet less often. But you pay a big price for that. Dehydration may make you:
- Faint or dizzy
- Lose your appetite.1
Older people tend to feel less thirsty so may become dehydrated without realising it. Your kidneys may also not be working as well and some common medications may dehydrate you too.
For older people, the consequences of dehydration may include:
- A decline in memory and overall function
- Stroke. 1
So – even though it makes you need the bathroom – it’s important to drink regularly. But what’s best? Let’s take a look.
The best drinks to stay hydrated and continent
Ensuring you drink plenty of liquids is vital to managing incontinence but you must make sure that you are drinking beneficial liquids. Here are five of the best bladder-friendly drinks that you can choose to hit the recommended fluid intake and reduce the chances of bladder irritation.
Water is almost always the best drink to reach for. Drinking water can bring so many benefits to the body, including:
- Flushing the bladder of bacteria
- Aiding digestion
- Preventing constipation
- Regulating body temperature
- Protecting organs and body tissue.2
However, one of the main benefits of drinking water is that it keeps you hydrated and ensures your urine isn’t too concentrated. Concentrated urine can irritate your bladder, leading to an increased urge and frequency to urinate.3 Odd as it may seem, you may find it easier to manage your incontinence if you drink more water, not less.
Need a bit more flavour than plain water offers? Try adding slices of lemon, lime or cucumber.
2. Diluted fruit juices
Fruit juice has a relatively high sugar and calorie content – so diluting it with water is an idea. It means you enjoy its beneficial aspects, such as taste and nutrients while minimising its downsides.
Diluted apple and pear juice may be good choices when enjoyed in moderation. It’s best to avoid acidic juices like cranberry, grapefruit and orange as these are known to irritate the bladder.4
3. Decaffeinated tea and coffee
Consider swapping caffeinated drinks like tea and coffee for their decaf versions.
Caffeine is a diuretic, meaning it makes you need to urinate more often. Decaffeinated drinks may prove to be less irritating to your bladder while still giving you a chance to enjoy Australia’s vibrant coffee culture.
A French review found that decreasing caffeine consumption can cut symptoms of an overactive bladder by half.5
4. Herbal tea
Though the evidence is on the weaker side, some herbal teas may help to prevent urinary tract infections, which can cause incontinence.
Consider parsley, chamomile or mint teas. These may have a weak diuretic effect and can also contain anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties which may help to clear bacteria and promote good bladder health (though more studies are needed).6
5. Green tea
A Japanese study found that drinking green tea may improve urinary incontinence in women aged 40-75.7 However, green tea does contain caffeine, so you should drink it in moderation.
Drinks to avoid with incontinence
There are some drinks that you would be well-advised to avoid if you have incontinence. That’s because they can irritate your bladder or have a diuretic effect, meaning they increase the urgency and frequency of urination. Here are a few drinks to be wary of.
Though Aussies love a good drink, alcohol is both a diuretic and a bladder irritant.
Alcohol increases the:
- Production of urine
- Urge to urinate
- Risk of dehydration.8
2. Carbonated drinks
There are two reasons to limit your intake of carbonated drinks. Firstly, many of them contain caffeine. Secondly, even drinks like sparkling water may irritate the bladder, possibly because the carbon dioxide reacts with water to form a weak carbonic acid – and acidic drinks like citrus juices are known to irritate the bladder. Carbonated drinks may also make it harder to control bladder spasms, increasing the risk of incontinence due to an overactive bladder.9
3. Caffeinated drinks
As mentioned above, caffeine is a diuretic that makes you need to urinate more often and more urgently.10 If you’re struggling with incontinence, it’s best to limit or eliminate it.
Milk and dairy products can be an issue for some people with incontinence – though not for everyone.11 If you suspect there’s a link between a frequent urge to urinate and your milk intake, then consider swapping to soy or almond milk and see if you notice an improvement.
5. Hot chocolateIf you’re no longer ordering an espresso, you might think hot chocolate is the ideal alternative. Unfortunately, hot chocolate may also irritate your bladder because it has an acidic ingredient that also contains caffeine.
Living with incontinence is not easy. If changing what you drink may help, then it’ll be worth a try. It’s also worth ensuring that you have the right incontinence products to support you when leakages do happen. MoliCareⓇ has an extensive range of absorbent products that help you to go about your day with confidence. Explore the options with our product finder and don’t forget to take some free samples for a dry run.
This website does not provide medical advice. The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images, and other material contained on this website, is for informational purposes only. No material on this site is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.
1. Healthdirect, 2021, Drinking water and your health, https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/drinking-water-and-your-health, [Accessed 5 June 2023]
2. Harvard Health Publishing, 2022, How much water should you drink? https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/how-much-water-should-you-drink, [Accessed 5 June 2023]
3. Good Rx Health, 2023, The surprising drinking mistake that makes overactive bladders worse, https://www.goodrx.com/conditions/overactive-bladder/overactive-bladder-not-drinking-enough-water, [Accesssed 5 June 2023]
4. WebMD, 2022, Food and drink to tame an overactive bladder, https://www.webmd.com/urinary-incontinence-oab/food-drink, [Accessed 5 June 2023]
5. Southern Alberta Institute of Urology, 2020, Coffee and your bladder, https://saiu.ca/coffee-and-your-bladder/, [Accessed 5 June 2023]
6. Healthline, 2020, 8 herbs and natural supplements for UTIs, https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/herbs-for-uti#68.-Other-potential-remedies, [Accessed 5 June 2023]
7. Hirayama F, Lee AH. Green tea drinking is inversely associated with urinary incontinence in middle-aged and older women. Neurourol Urodyn. 2011 Sep;30(7):1262-5. doi: 10.1002/nau.20987. Epub 2011 Mar 14. PMID: 21404319.
8. National Association for Continence, Could alcohol be causing your bed-wetting problem? https://nafc.org/bhealth-blog/could-alcohol-consumption-be-contributing-to-your-incontinence-or-bedwetting-problem, [Accessed 5 June 2023]
9. Specialist Clinics of Australia, Can your diet affect urinary incontinence? https://www.specialistaustralia.com.au/diet-incontinence/, [Accessed 5 June 2023]
10. Lohsiriwat S, Hirunsai M, Chaiyaprasithi B. Effect of caffeine on bladder function in patients with overactive bladder symptoms. Urol Ann. 2011 Jan;3(1):14-8. doi: 10.4103/0974-7796.75862. PMID: 21346827; PMCID: PMC3036994.
11. Everyday Health, 2010, 9 diet tips to manage an overactive bladder, https://www.everydayhealth.com/overactive-bladder-photos/diet-tips-for-overactive-bladder.aspx, [Accessed 5 June 2023]