How What You Drink Affects Your Bladder (Alcohol)

illustration of an alcoholic drink

This is the second in a four part series of how what we drink can affect bladder health including urinary incontinence and OAB 

We discussed last week the relationship between caffeine intake and bladder symptoms including urinary frequency and incontinence. We reviewed two studies suggesting that decreasing caffeine to less than 100mg/day likely reduces these bothersome symptoms.

Moderate Consumption

Today, we turn our attention to the effects of alcohol on the bladder. However, I think that it is appropriate to begin by pointing out that, historically, there is evidence that moderate alcohol consumption may have beneficial effects for the body, especially the cardiovascular system. It is crucial to point out that “moderate” generally means one drink/day for women and two drinks/day for men. Those benefits disappear very quickly above those moderate levels. 

In terms of effects on the bladder, it is notable that while several studies over the years suggest that alcohol can worsen bladder symptoms including frequency urination of urine leakage, at least two large studies have not shown this result. Mixed findings like these may be due to differences in how the studies were conducted, differences in the patients studied or even differences in the amount or type of alcohol that was being consumed. Overall, there appears to be less clear-cut evidence that moderate alcohol intake contributes to bladder symptoms than thee is for other common beverages such as those containing caffeine.


Overconsumption of alcohol, in contrast, may have more concerning long-term effects on bladder health. Alcohol is broken down by the body into relatively toxic substances that are eliminated in the urine. However, the bladder can be exposed to these toxins for longer periods of time as the urine sits in the bladder exposing it to these toxins. This exposure due to high alcohol use may result in long-term bladder damage.

Tomorrow, we will discuss how other drinks such as acidic drinks and carbonated beverages impact bladder health.

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