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Enjoying a few glasses of wine, bottles of beer, or mixed drinks are often a part of holidays, celebrations, and socializing with friends. You probably know that drinking too much can lead to a hangover, but you may not be as aware of how alcohol use affects incontinence symptoms. Whether you suffer from bowel or urinary incontinence, understanding the link between alcohol intake and accidents can help you make informed decisions about consuming alcoholic beverages that can lead to incontinence symptoms like urgency, leaks, nocturnal enuresis, or bedwetting.
People who suffer from alcohol use disorder and drink excessively as part of their everyday activities could develop nerve damage called alcoholic neuropathy. A person could develop incontinence if this condition impacts nerves that control the bladder or bowel. However, this is not common.
For people who drink socially or consume alcohol in moderation regularly, alcohol typically isn't the direct cause of urinary or bowel incontinence.
Alcohol consumption likely won't cause incontinence, but it can worsen symptoms if you have an existing problem. This relates to how alcohol affects the bladder, bowel, and the rest of the body.
Drinking alcohol affects the bladder in the following ways:
Drinking alcohol affects the bowel in the following ways:
Alcohol has other effects on the body that play a role in the link between drinking and incontinence, such as:
Women and men absorb and process alcohol differently. The difference in body size and chemistry means alcohol travels through women's bodies slower than men's. The slower processing speed means women will typically have higher blood alcohol levels than men when they consume the same number of drinks. As a result, women may be more prone to experiencing incontinence when they drink.
People with incontinence may experience bedwetting even when they drink only a small amount of alcohol. The effects that alcohol has on the bladder and the rest of the body could mean that you don't wake up when you need to use the bathroom or that the need to urinate comes on too suddenly for you to wake up and make it to the toilet. As a result, you may urinate in bed or experience a bladder leak that wakes you up.
Although it can be an embarrassing problem, alcohol incontinence is often manageable. To deal with the condition, follow these tips.
Staying hydrated can reduce the risk of both a hangover and incontinence symptoms. When you plan to enjoy alcohol for a social occasion, drink plenty of water and other fluids that day. Have a glass of water between drinks and sip water the following day to replenish what you lost the night before.
When your social life activities involve drinking, plan ahead to protect yourself. Nighttime incontinence products can help keep your bed and clothing dry if you experience leaks or an accident. Options include pull-on protective underwear for men and women, overnight pads for women, and guards for men. You can also use bed protectors to keep your sheets and mattress clean.
If you experience an accident at night, make sure to practice good incontinence skin care in the morning. Cleanse your skin thoroughly with wipes or a cleansing spray, and apply barrier cream if you're experiencing skin irritation. Good hygiene can help control incontinence odors and may even reduce your risk of urinary tract infection.
Discuss alcohol consumption with your physician. They can provide guidelines regarding the number of drinks to stop at when you're celebrating. In addition, they can discuss how alcohol may impact a health condition or interact with medications that you take to treat a condition or disease.
Do you or a loved one struggle with incontinence? Take our bladder protection quiz and get a free starter pack to try!