The Surprising Drinking Mistake That Makes Overactive Bladder Worse

Most people think this helps their need to pee. It doesn’t.

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Logically, it makes sense. If liquids create urine, and you’re suffering from overactive bladder, a condition that causes you to urgently feel the need to urinate several times a day, then just drink less fluids, right?

Not exactly.

“Women who have incontinence will very often dehydrate themselves and decrease their fluid intake in a common sense attempt to reduce bladder fullness so they reduce their incontinence,” says Lauri Romanzi, MD, a urogynecologist in New York City. But the problem with dramatically cutting back your fluid intake too much is that you’re not only dehydrating your body, but your making your urine more concentrated too (hence the darker color). This extra-concentrated urine can irritate the bladder and make your OAB symptoms worse. (Here’s what else your urine color can reveal about your health).

What’s more, not drinking enough water can lead to constipation, which can also trigger OAB symptoms. Since the colon and the bladder are in close proximity to each other, being blocked up can put extra pressure on the bladder. This can cause the bladder to not fill as much as it should, or cause it to contract when it’s not supposed to, which is the last thing you need when you have OAB.

The key here, is to not necessarily focus on drinking way, way less water, but focus on drinking the right amount for your health needs. “When [patients] come in and [I] say, ‘Well one of the things we’re going to do is increase your fluid intake to a normal daily amount,’ they’re very resistant, because [their OAB] is getting worse even though they’re barely drinking anything. They’re worried that if they increase their fluid intake they’re going to leak more,” says Dr. Romanzi.

Here are some tips to make sure you drink the right amount of water for your body:

  • Sip liquids (mostly water) in small amounts of throughout the day, rather than drinking large volumes at one time.
  • If you see the color of your urine getting too dark, drink a little more. Your pee should be light yellow or nearly colorless.
  • Dry mouth? Try sugar-free gum or candy before you fill up your water bottle. This may reduce the amount of water you’d otherwise want to guzzle down.
  • Keep a bladder diary. Record how much fluid you drink, how often you urinate, and how much you urinate. This information can help you and your doctor learn about patterns relating to your fluid intake and OAB.