Bladder Irritants Holiday Addition

After what feels like the longest year in the history of the world, the holiday season is right around the corner and 2020 is coming to a close. When I picture the holidays this is what immediately comes to mind; sitting around the living room laughing with family after we’ve gorged ourselves on wonderful food and maybe a glass or two of red wine. Thinking about this gives me that warm fuzzy feeling; but it also makes my bladder and pelvic floor cringe just a little bit. Ladies, you know what I am talking about; you’re two glasses of wine in and old Uncle Charlie says something that has you spitting out your wine with laughter and then subsequently running to the bathroom because you feel like you’re going to pee your pants!

The Holiday Season may look a little different this year and old Uncle Charlie might not actually be at your house due to the pandemic. But I still hope your holidays are full of good food, good wine, and lots of laughs (just minus the leaking). How do we accomplish that you ask? You’ll have to refer to food and wine magazines regarding the first two things. And give Uncle Charlie a call for the laughs. But, for not peeing your pants?, I can help with that! 

Let’s talk about leaking and bladder irritants and what we can do to help decrease those symptoms. Leaking can be caused by many things; dysfunction in your pelvic floor muscles is the main reason (which can be treated easily with pelvic floor physical therapy) but what we eat and drink can also change the way our bladder reacts. There are a handful of things that we classify as a “Bladder Irritant”.  Let’s discuss those commonly found at the holiday table. 

  • Alcohol 

  • Foods with acidic properties (think cranberry sauce)

  • Coffee 

  • Chocolate

  • Milk/dairy products (many holiday dishes have milk, cream or cheese added to them)

Generally, I suggest that people try to limit the quantity of these bladder irritants in their diet; but I bend the rules some for the holidays. Overall you still want to be aware of what you’re ingesting and keep track of how many bladder irritants you’re consuming; but it’s the Holidays so go ahead and have that second glass of wine! Because many bladder irritants are also diuretics, that extra glass of wine can lead to dehydration. 

I suggest you are also increasing the amount of water you are drinking. This can seem counterintuitive. Women think, if I drink more water won’t I have to pee more? Won’t I actually leak more because my bladder is fuller? That actually isn’t the case.  Dehydration in and of itself is a bladder irritant. Very dark concentrated urine is irritating to the bladder surface and may cause you to go to the bathroom more frequently than when you are properly hydrated.

The take home is: enjoy your holidays! We all deserve a little rest and relaxation at the end of the long year that has been 2020. Just make sure to drink a little more water and maybe take a smaller portion of that cranberry sauce for dinner. And as always, if you are struggling with any sort of leaking, pelvic floor physical therapy is a very helpful tool to help you get back on track! Feel free to give us a call or shoot us an email if you have any questions about it.

-Kate Dolan, DPT

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