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Last updated on April 18, 2014 at 11:57 EDT

Drinking 25% Less Helps People With Overactive Bladders

June 24, 2008

Reducing fluid intake by 25 percent may alleviate symptoms for people with overactive bladder problems, according to a new study from the UK.

An overactive bladder results in causing a person to urinate frequently. People with overactive bladders are often advised to reduce their fluid intake, but scientific evidence for the effectiveness of the cutback was lacking, said Dr. Hashim Hashim and Dr. Paul Abrams of Southmead Hospital in Bristol. This advice conflicts with overall notions that drinking more fluids will improve general health.

Causes for a person’s need to urinate frequently can include bladder infections, bladder cancer and bladder stones, and these conditions must be ruled out before a diagnosis of overactive bladder can be made, says Dr. Hashim Hashim.

Writing in the medical journal BJU International, researchers instructed 24 people with overactive bladders to drink 25 percent less than normal, 50 percent less than normal, 25 percent more than normal, or 50 percent more than normal, each for four days in a row, alternating with two days of normal fluid consumption.

Researchers noted that those who cut their fluid intake by 25 percent experienced a 23 percent reduction in urinary frequency along with 34 percent less urgency, and a 7 percent reduction in nighttime urination.

Additionally, 83 percent of those studied reported that a 25 percent reduction worked best for them, but said that it was more difficult to cut fluid intake by half. Four people felt thirsty and two had headaches while trying reduce their fluid intake by half. Only one person had a headache when reducing fluid intake by 25 percent.

Increased fluid consumption by 25 percent or 50 percent caused daytime urinary frequency to increase.

Hashim said that many people forget that vegetables contain a substantial amount of water, and people generally consume 10 to 17 ounces of liquid from food daily. The recommendation for fluid intake for a person weight 150 pounds is 54 ounces.

Dr. Hashim also acknowledged that drinking too little can cause the urine to become overly concentrated, which can also be irritating to the bladder.

He said that people dealing with overactive bladders should use a frequency-volume chart to document how often one urinates and how much urine is produced. This will help people gauge how well their treatments are working.

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BJU International