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Are your favorite summertime drinks irritating your bladder?

By Dr. Brooke Meinema, DPT, FAFS

Nothing can kill a summer vibe faster than figuring out if your wetness is from sweat or urine leakage. While urine leakage can be caused by a number of issues, one thing to think about when trying to improve this problem is what we are putting into our bladder. Some of our favorite drinks of summer (think seltzers, alcohol, iced tea/coffee, etc.) can lead to irritation within the bladder, potentially leading to more leaking. These drinks aren’t doing damage to your bladder per se, but they may increase the likelihood of people with sensitive bladders struggling with urgency and frequency of urination. Some of the issues can come from the pH of our urine: if your urine is extra acidic from highly acidic food and drinks (coffee, tea, juice), your bladder is going to want to flush it out and empty ASAP. This can irritate the lining of the bladder leading to more leaks, feeling like you need to pee even when your bladder isn’t that full or just discomfort in general. Also, drinks with caffeine can lead to increased urgency as they are stimulants to your bladder giving it the cue to void.

That being said, you definitely want to stay hydrated all summer long! A dehydrated bladder can be thought of as a dry plant: as soon as you water it, all the water comes rushing out the bottom. I know people may think, “I’ll just not drink as much throughout the day so I don’t have leaks,” but the problem with this is the more you deny your body hydration, not only will your bladder not be able to hold as much urine because it gets weaker (your bladder is a muscle and the urine is like a weight of sorts), but not giving your body as much water as it needs in the day can increase the pH of your urine, which, once again, may be making you have even more leaks (on top of other problems dehydration can lead to).

So, what can you do? If you have been dealing with issues with leaking or frequency, making sure you drink enough water is a great place to start. Avoiding or limiting common bladder irritants such as food and drinks with caffeine, highly acidic food and drinks, alcohol, and carbonated beverages can help to reduce some of the irritation in the bladder (I know, it sounds like a bit of a buzz kill). Some people may find it helpful to use a bladder diary to track what they are eating and drinking to compare to when they leak to find potential causes of their specific case. Others may benefit from seeing a pelvic floor physical therapist to assess strength, habits, and pelvic tone.

Want more advice on leaking and bladder habits, check out our other blogs (World Continence Week, Bathroom Habits Part 1, etc.). If you are sick of dealing with leaking, you can also set up a free 10-minute phone consult or 30-minute in-person women’s health assessment to speak with one of our women’s health specialists!


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