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What is a "Bladder Irritant" and Why You Should Care

Updated: May 10, 2022

By: Dr. Lisa Bodratti

Urinary Urgency and Incontinence, Fluid Intake and Nutrition - How Are They Related?

What is urinary urgency?

Urinary urgency is the strong sensation to urinate followed by any amount of involuntary urine loss. This can be caused by weak muscles, triggers like running water/”key in the door”, bad habits like “just-in-case-ing” (urinating before you leave the house, go to work, etc. even if you don’t have the sensation to go), and muscular tension or trigger points.

What is urinary incontinence?

Continence is defined by the voluntary control of your bladder and bowel - therefore incontinence is the inability to control your bladder or bowels. In this case, we are speaking about your bladder and urination. In order to have full control of our continence, we need an intact nervous system, intact cognition, and the mobility to get to/use/get off of a toilet or commode.

Why does WHAT I drink or eat matter?

The type and volume of fluid or foods you consume contribute to symptoms of bladder urgency and potential incontinence. There are some fluids and foods that are considered “bladder irritants” or things that signal to your body to urinate more often. A short list of these items can include:

  • Caffeine - coffee or tea

  • Alcohol, beer, or wine

  • Carbonated drinks - sodas, seltzers, etc.

  • Citrus juices or fruits

  • Tomatoes

  • Spicy foods

  • Sweets and chocolate

  • Artificial sweetener

  • Milk and milk products

How much fluid should I be drinking each day?

A standard goal of how much fluid you should be taking in each day is ½ of your body weight in ounces. For easy math - if you weigh 150 pounds, you should be drinking 75 ounces per day, ⅔ of which (or about 50oz) should be water.

How many times per day should I be urinating?

It is typical to urinate 5-8 times per day, and 0-1 times per night. A good goal is to urinate every 2-4 hours, and avoid “just-in-case-ing!”

If you have concerns about bladder urgency or incontinence, please reach out to one of our Pelvic Floor Physical Therapists here at The Green Room! This information is just the “tip of the iceberg.” There can be many more contributors to pelvic floor issues, including incontinence, that we would love to educate you on and help you with!

Dr. Lisa Bodratti, PT, DPT

Clifton Park & Troy

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