How What You Drink Affects Your Bladder (Caffeine)

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

Since many of us consider our morning cup (or cups!!) of coffee “essential” it is understandable that people are often concerned about having to give up favorite foods or beverages in order to control their overactive bladder (OAB) or urinary incontinence. I can see the panic in their faces as they think about the daily commute without their favorite travel mug.  

Effects of Caffeine

Most of the studies looking at the effects of caffeine on bladder health have shown a relationship between caffeine consumption and bladder symptoms such as urinary frequency and urgency incontinence (leakage that occurs when you can’t make it to the bathroom). Like many of the things that we eat and drink, the key is moderation. But what exactly does moderation mean when it comes to caffeine?  

Image of a caffeinated soda

In one study of over 4,000 women, those who took in more than 200 mg/day of caffeine were more likely to report urinary leakage. For context, the average 8oz cup of coffee contains about 100mg of caffeine. In a second study, women with OAB were asked to reduce their caffeine intake and were able to decrease to less than 100mg/day on average. Women not asked to reduce caffeine took in almost 240 mg/day. The number of episodes of urgency (feeling like you must rush to the bathroom) were 80% lower in the group taking in less than 100mg/day of caffeine.  

Summary

So, it isn’t elimination of caffeine that’s important, it’s moderation. Reducing coffee intake rather than cutting it out completely may also be more tolerable and sustainable over the long-term.  

Come back next week when I will discuss what we know about the effects of alcohol on bladder health.  

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