A drink or two (or three or four!) on a nice evening with some good friends is something many of us will enjoy. But what effect does alcohol actually have on your bladder and can you still drink even if you have bladder issues?
Alcohol is a well-known diuretic and will make your body produce a lot more urine than it usually does. This also means that you will likely have to go to the loo a lot more often. But you’ll likely know this slightly annoying side effect from back when we were allowed to go to the pub and you had to pee every 5 minutes after you had a few pints.
Whereas having to pee more frequently is generally not a problem for the average person, it can quickly become problematic if you’re suffering from bladder issues. It can cause you to have more accidents or wet the bed, give you nasty UTIs, or just generally worsen your symptoms.
Alcohol and UTIs
Alcohol dehydrates your body which can make your urine more concentrated. Why are we telling you this? Because concentrated urine will irritate the lining of your bladder and can cause it to become inflamed. This is what’s called a urinary tract infection, or UTI for short. How do you know that you’re suffering from a UTI? Your urine will become cloudy, dark, and smelly and you’ll likely experience a painful, burning feeling in your bladder. It’s also quite common to feel like you constantly have to pee, even if you’ve just been to the toilet. If, in addition to these symptoms, you also have a headache, fever or back pain, you should get in touch with your GP as you’ll likely need treatment. If you have a UTI, it’s best to avoid drinking alcohol altogether as it will irritate your bladder even more.
Does alcohol make my bladder issues worse?
Increased frequency and unintentional leakage
If you’re struggling with leaks or incontinence, it’s always best to keep a close eye on your alcohol intake as it stimulates your bladder. If you’re in this situation, having a few drinks can easily lead to more frequent accidents or worse leaks. If, on top of that, you also have mobility issues, you might not be able to make it to the toilet in time or your bladder might simply be so overstimulated that you’re unable to hold it back anymore.
Alcohol will also make you sleep much deeper which can cause even more problems if you usually get up to pee in the middle of the night. If you had one too many your brain might not be able to wake you up when it’s time for a trip to the toilet. This can lead to anything from a minor leak to actually wetting the bed.
Too much alcohol can confuse the signals sent from the brain to your bladder and the other way around. This means that you might not be able to tell if you have to go to the loo or not. Sometimes, this will lead to you going for a pee just to figure out that you don’t actually need one when you’re already on the pot. And other times – unfortunately, this is much more likely occurrence – you won’t be getting the signal that you should slowly be heading to the toilet which, in turn, will cause you to have an accident.