Halloween is coming. And as tempting as it may be to start raiding your kid’s candy bucket, if you have incontinence, it’s important to take a pause. Yes, those candy bars are so delicious, but what are they doing to your bladder?
Bladder leaks may be the result of weakened pelvic floor muscles from childbirth, certain medications you’re taking, or even nerve damage that developed because of a different condition all together.
What Causes Incontinence Anyway?
Simply put, incontinence is the involuntary loss of urine. There are many types of incontinence and many different reasons why someone may develop bladder leaks. Bladder leaks may be the result of weakened pelvic floor muscles from childbirth, certain medications you’re taking, or even nerve damage that developed because of a different condition all together.
Why Would Sugar Make A Difference With Incontinence?
It may sound crazy, but what you eat has a big effect on how your bladder behaves. While it’s different for everyone, there are many foods that can irritate the bladder. These include things like acidic foods (think citrus or tomatoes), caffeine, and yes, even sugar. Sugar can stimulate the bladder, causing sudden urges, which may lead to leaks. Even natural sugars, like honey, or artificial sweeteners can cause this irritation.
And, let’s be honest. Besides just the effect on your bladder, you probably know that sugar is not great for you anyway. It can indirectly lead to number of other conditions, which consequently, can then lead to incontinence.
Sugar also can lead to more frequent urinary tract infections (UTIs), a condition that sometimes causes short-term incontinence. The bacteria that cause UTIs love sugar.
And, eating too much sugar can lead to higher blood sugar levels, which can cause an increase in the amount of urine that is produced by the body. This can then lead to that urgent, frequent need to go, and create the potential leaks.
Eating too much sugar can also lead to weight gain, which places extra strain on the pelvic floor muscles and can cause incontinence. It can also lead to diabetes, a condition where your body has a hard time processing the glucose in your body, causing potentially high blood sugar levels. These high levels of blood sugar can cause a condition called diabetic neuropathy, which is when the nerves that run from your heart to your bladder are damaged, in turn causing incontinence.
Should I Avoid Sugar Completely If I Have Incontinence?
No, but you should definitely pay attention to it. People are unique and what may be a big bladder irritant for one person isn’t always necessarily one for someone else. The best thing to do is to keep a bladder diary and track what you’re eating and drinking for a few days, as well as when you have leaks. If you start noticing certain patterns (like always needing a bathroom run after that 3 pm sugar fix), it may be a good idea to cut back. You can also try an elimination diet by eliminating sugar all together for a period of time, then slowly introducing it back into your system to see if it makes a difference.
Of course, when it comes to sugar, moderation is key for anyone – not just those experiencing leaks. Too much sugar is bad for anyone trying to stick to a healthy diet. If you can, try to stick to naturally occurring sugars found in fruits and limit foods with added sugar as much as possible.
This article is copywritten by the National Association for Continence and is used by permission and legally licensed by Urovant. For more information, visit nafc.org.