Of all the advice I give patients, the subject of fluid intake is the one that I receive the most push back on. Many patients come to me with symptoms of urinary urgency, urinary frequency or incontinence but do not want to accept the fact that their fluid intake may be part of the culprit. Excessive fluid intake can contribute to this triad of symptoms. Urinary urgency is an overwhelming feeling to urinate that cannot be ignored or suppressed. If you have urinary urgency you probably find yourself running to the bathroom often. Increased urinary frequency is defined as urinating more than 6-8 times per day. Some of my patients have admitted to using the bathroom 15-20 times a day! Lastly, incontinence occurs when you leak urine accidentally. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is time to evaluate your fluid intake.
These symptoms can appear from either fluid overload or consuming bladder irritants. Often, people are unaware that they are overworking their kidneys and overloading their bladder from increased fluid intake.
What classifies as a fluid besides the obvious (water, juices, coffee, tea, and alcohol)?
- Fruits / Vegetables
- Soups / Jello
Our bodies treat the above mentioned food categories as fluids. When we calculate how much fluid we should consume daily, we must take into account these food groups.
Your ideal fluid intake depends on your individual body weight and activity levels. Typically, your total fluid intake should be about half of your body weight in ounces.
For example, Steve weights 200 lbs and therefore should consume 100 ounces of fluid each day. Half of that fluid intake should be water. Breakdown: 50 ounces of water and 50 ounces of other fluids daily.
Fluid Replacement Following Exercise
For every 10-20 minutes of exercise, the body will require an extra 10 fluid ounces. If Steve exercises for one hour, he should consume an additional 30-60 fluid ounces. Total fluid intake: 130-160 fluid ounces.
The Take Home
Our kidneys are designed to filter a certain amount of fluid each day. Anything above that is considered fluid overload and may lead to hyponatremia. Furthermore, our bladder can become overactive and dysfunctional. If you are younger and guilty of fluid overload, you may not be experiencing any symptoms yet. However, ingesting too many fluids may lead to pelvic floor and urinary dysfunction down the road.
Take charge of your own health and start recording your fluid intake today to keep your bladder happy and healthy.
-Dr. Betsey Stec PT, DPT
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