When you live with incontinence, it’s easy to think that limiting your fluids will help you to avoid an uncomfortable bladder leak. And while in some cases that may be true, most of the time, restricting your fluids can have negative consequences, including dehydration and foul-smelling urine. It may even cause you to have the problem that you are trying to avoid: a leaky bladder.
It’s long been recommended that we need to drink 8 glasses of water a day. But really, you should drink to quench your thirst, and try to listen to your body to know the right amount of water intake for you. This can vary for everyone so it’s important to listen to your body and drink when you’re thirsty.
Keep reading to learn more about how limiting your water intake can harm your health and a tip for knowing if you’re drinking enough.
How Restricting Your Fluids Can Harm Your Health
Dehydration. It’s a fact of life: our bodies need water to function properly. Without it, you will become dehydrated and may experience symptoms such as headaches, muscle cramps, dizziness, lack of energy, not peeing or having dark yellow pee, irritability, or even fainting.
The simple fix? If it’s just mild dehydration, drink some water or clear fluid like broth or Gatorade. 2-3 cups may do the job and have you feeling better within the hour.
However, if you experience severe dehydration, you may need hospitalization and intravenous hydration for up to 24 hours to recover.
Drinking fewer fluids throughout the day can irritate the bladder, leading to more leaks. Yes – it’s true! What you are trying to avoid may be exactly what you are causing! When you drink less water, your urine becomes very concentrated and can actually irritate the bladder, which can lead to bladder leaks.
Concentrated urine can also lead to bladder infections or urinary tract infections, which is something we’d all probably like to avoid.
When you do have leaks, they’ll smell a lot more. Remember how we just said your urine becomes more concentrated when you restrict fluids? That also makes it smell a lot more, meaning if you do leak, you’ll have a harder time covering up unpleasant odors.
How Do I Know If I’m Drinking Enough Water?
So, what’s the right amount for you? Here’s an easy tip to tell if your water intake is adequate.
The Skin Pinch Test
Pinch the skin on the back of your hand, then let it go. If you’re fully hydrated, your skin should bounce right back. But if it takes longer for the skin to return to normal, you may be dehydrated.
So whatever you do, don’t skimp on your water! And if you’re finding it hard to work in the recommended 6-8 glasses a day, try some add-ins, like cucumber, berries, or citrus. Here are some great ideas to spruce up your H2O.