A weak bladder, sometimes referred to as an “overactive bladder” or “irritable bladder,” can cause a number of uncomfortable symptoms including increased sense of urgency and poor control, leading to urine leakage. While the exact causes of this condition remain unknown, certain foods and drinks appear to irritate the bladder. Alcohol ranks very high on the list of possible bladder irritants and limiting or avoiding it might reduce symptoms. You should also know that beverages that contain caffeine might produce similar problems.
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Mechanisms of the Bladder
Your kidneys constantly make urine and pass it down to the bladder. As the bladder begins to fill up, a complex set of nerve signals facilitates the process of letting you know it is time to go and the contraction of the muscles involved in urination. When you have a weak bladder, this process does not flow as smoothly, leading to the aforementioned symptoms.
The doctor-created website PatientUK explains that alcohol might generally irritate the bladder, leading to symptoms characteristic of this condition. It is also a diuretic that can lead the bladder to want to empty more frequently.
A complex series of nerve signals guides the bladder-emptying process. The National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse, or NDIC, explains that alcohol can dull these nerves, allowing the bladder to fill up without giving you any signals to empty it, contributing to leakage.
Alcohol and the Kidneys
Since your kidneys produce urine and send it down the bladder, kidney health becomes paramount in managing a weak bladder. Alcohol can affect how the kidneys function and directly impact urination. An article published on the website for Montana State University notes that drinking alcohol can lead the kidneys to send urine to the bladder as soon as 20 minutes after consumption. Alcohol appears to affect the water balance and cause more liquid to travel to the bladder.
MayoClinic.com recommends experimenting with the elimination of alcohol for about a week to see if your symptoms improve. You might not need to eliminate it completely but experimenting with elimination and slowly adding it back to your diet can help you determine your personal tolerance level.