Could Alcohol Consumption Be Contributing To Your Incontinence Or Bedwetting Problem?

Alcohol and incontinence

Eric was 43 when he first woke up wet. He had no idea what had happened to him, but after a couple of minutes he realized:  he had wet the bed. He was shocked – this had never happened to him before and he had no idea why it was happening now.

The bedwetting continued a couple of times a month for a few months until he finally knew something had to be done.  He noticed that he seemed to only wet the bed after he had had a few drinks with his buddies during their regular poker night. “I don’t usually drink much, but I like to have a few beers with the guys during our regular hang out.  I decided to try switching to water for the next couple of poker nights just to see what would happen.” Sure enough, once he omitted the alcohol, things improved dramatically.

Eric’s situation is not uncommon. Over 35 million American adults suffer from incontinence, and nearly 5 million have a bedwetting problem. And, while alcohol cannot be attributed to all of these cases, it is definitely something to try omitting for a while if you do suffer from incontinence. Sometimes, simple lifestyle changes can make a huge difference.

Alcohol on it’s own doesn’t cause incontinence, but for those who are prone to bladder leaks, it can be a trigger.  Alcohol is a diuretic, which means that in increases the production of urine and can also cause a person to need to use the restroom more often. Not only that, alcohol irritates the bladder, which can make overactive bladder symptoms worse. It’s worth it to try eliminating alcohol if you have incontinence. (Especially if you tend to drink to excess.)

Alcohol isn’t the only thing you should watch out for if you struggle with bladder leakage. 

The following foods and drinks can also irritate the bladder

  • Caffeinated beverages like coffee and tea

  • Chocolate (it contains caffeine too!)

  • Carbonated drinks

  • Spicy foods

  • Citrus foods

  • Acidic foods, such as tomatoes

  • Cranberry juice

  • Sugar – including artificial sweeteners

  • Certain medications

If you are experiencing incontinence, try eliminating some of these foods from your diet to see if it makes a difference. It may help you to keep a bladder diary during this experiment to record how what you eat affects your bladder leaks. And if you experience bedwetting, definitely try skipping that nightly glass of wine. As Eric discovered, sometimes making simple lifestyle changes can make a huge difference.  “I’m dry again! I miss having a drink with the guys, but it’s something I can live without if it means I don’t wet the bed.”

Want a handy cheat sheet of foods to avoid if you have incontinence? Print out our free download of foods that may trigger incontinence and hang it on your fridge for easy reference!

Click Here To Print Your Guide

ASK THE EXPERT: Do I Really Need To Avoid Sugar And Alcohol If I Have Incontinence?

Each month, we ask our expert panel to answer one of our reader's questions. To learn more about the NAFC Expert Panel, and how to submit your own question, see below.

Question: It’s the holidays, and it’s hard to avoid all the goodies and treats around me.  Do things like sugar and alcohol really make a difference in my incontinence symptoms?

Answer: While it may not be what you want to hear, the answer is yes.  Let’s start with sugar.  Sugar (even the artificial kind) is a known bladder irritant – especially for those with overactive bladder – and too much of it can keep you running to the bathroom more times than you’d want during the holidays. Not only that, consuming too much sugar causes the kidneys to work harder to flush the sugar out of the blood, which can result in an increase in the amount of urine you’re holding onto – not a good thing if you already have a leakage problem. High blood sugar levels have also been shown to increase the risk of urinary tract infections.

And now alcohol. Alcohol is a diuretic. It increases urine production which can lead to increased frequency and urgency of needing to use the restroom. In addition, alcoholic beverages can stimulate the bladder, which can also lead to incontinence.

In short – both sugar and alcohol should be avoided as much as possible for those with incontinence or overactive bladder. If you do plan to indulge this holiday season, remember that moderation is key. 

Are you an expert in incontinence care? Would you like to join the NAFC expert panel? Contact us!