The Importance Of Hydration
Poor nutrition and hydration can sometimes make bladder and bowel symptoms worse, this article looks at all the reasons why good hydration is so important to the bladder and bowel.
What Happens If I Don’t Drink Enough?
Between 60-70% of your body is made up of water and every part of your body needs water to function well, however having an insufficient level of fluid in your body can really impact your bowel and bladder health.
What Happens To My Bowel?
Becoming dehydrated can lead to:
- Constipation – you are likely to be experiencing constipation if you are having fewer bowel movements than normal or opening your bowels less than three times a week, passing stools that are hard and dry. Having constipation can reduce your appetite and leave you feeling bloated and uncomfortable, stomach pain and feeling fatigued. Increasing your water intake can help you have more regular bowel movements and reduce your symptoms
- Bowel incontinence – constipation can lead to overflow incontinence as liquid stool can leak through the impacted hard stool and can lead to an ability to hold on to your bowel motions. Keeping your fluid intake up will keep your motions regular and soft
What Happens To My Bladder?
Becoming dehydrated can lead to:
- Bladder irritation and concentrated urine – not having enough fluid in your body will lead to concentrated urine, which can irritate the bladder and make you feel the urge to pass urine with urgency or more frequently or suffer from incontinence. By drinking more fluids, this will help to flush any irritants through your bladder and out your body
- Increased risk of UTI – concentrated urine can also lead to a risk of a urinary tract infection. Symptoms of a UTI includes a burning sensation when urinating, the feeling of being unable to empty your bladder, pain in your lower abdomen or pelvis and feeling generally under the weather
How Much Should I Be Drinking?
A healthy adult needs around 1.5 – 2 litres (6-8 glasses a day) to maintain good bladder and bowel health although this will vary from person to person and will depend on age, weight, how much exercise you’ve performed and your general health state.
The Effects Of Caffeine And Alcohol
Caffeine and alcohol both act as a diuretic so will force fluids out of the body, which can lead to dehydration and exacerbate any existing symptoms of frequency and urgency. Caffeine and alcohol can also stimulate the bowel and can have a laxative effect.
The Effects Of Carbonated Drinks
Carbonated drinks can over stimulate the bladder and contribute to stress incontinence. They can also leave you feeling bloated, cause excess wind and stomach pain.
Should I Be Drinking Cranberry Juice?
Cranberry juice has long been associated with the prevention of bacterial cystitis and UTI’s, however medical evidence is inconclusive. If you suffer from interstitial cystitis you should avoid acidic fruit juices including cranberry as this can exacerbate your symptoms.
Regulating Your Fluid Intake
If you suffer from bladder or bowel incontinence it can be helpful to regulate your fluid intake and drink at certain times of the day. With increased intake at the beginning of the day, drinking less towards bedtime to reduce the need of using the toilet of night. This bladder/bowel diary can be helpful in timing your intake.
If you find that your bladder or bowel symptoms don’t improve after adjusting your fluid intake then it is important to seek advice from your GP or a medical professional.
The Healthy Drinking guide below may help you monitor your fluid intake.
[BBC:021] Healthy Drinking
Did you know that what you drink can affect your bladder? This helpful guide from University Hospitals of Leicester explains simply which drinks can irritate your bladder.