Eating right for the Unexpected Leak™ - Caffeine

Caffeine & Your Bladder

Whether you use it to help you wake up, stay energized or you simply love the taste, caffeine is all around us. It’s in your morning cup of coffee, the soda you drink at lunch or the tea you sip in the afternoon. This is what makes caffeine the most widely consumed stimulant in the world. What many people may not know is that it is actually a bladder irritant and in turn, is associated with urinary incontinence. People suffering from bladder weakness should actually consider cutting down on caffeinated beverages such as coffee, tea and soda, in addition to alcohol, to help alleviate leaks. As caffeine is so common in many of the products we consume on a daily basis, people are simply unaware of how much they ingest in a single day. This can be a problem for those trying to combat the Unexpected Leak™.

But how does caffeine irritate the bladder? The main reason is the fact that caffeine has a diuretic effect on the bladder. This means that the more the stimulant is consumed, the greater desire is to urinate. For example, for every cup of caffeinated beverage you drink, you will void more than that amount. This is because caffeine increases the blood flow to the kidneys and at the same time reduces the absorption of water and sodium. The result? The body’s increased urgency to pass liquid. And for those with an irritated bladder, this can be an unwelcome combination. So not only does it increase the urge to go to the washroom, caffeine can also contribute to dehydration. And as we learned in another article, dehydration results in an irritated bladder, which can worsen your condition. Another way that caffeine adversely affects the bladder is through raising blood pressure by exciting the circulatory system. This is the reason you may experience feeling alert when consuming caffeinated beverages. The heightened blood pressure then impacts the bladder by making it overactive.



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There have been many studies that prove the correlation between caffeine and incontinence. For example, women who consume high levels are 70% more likely to have urinary incontinence than women who don’t. This is according to Jon Gleason, MD, an instructor and fellow at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Medical School’s Division of Women’s Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery. Similar is true for the male counterpart, as research from the US states that men who drink about two cups of coffee a day are significantly more likely to experience leaks than those who drink less or none at all.

Trouble’s Brewing

Caffeine doesn’t just adversely affect those with incontinence. Aside from irritating the bladder and contributing to leaks, this stimulant results in other health and lifestyle woes that you may not know about:

  • Raise Blood Pressure:
    As mentioned earlier, caffeine can cause a short but dramatic spike in blood pressure, which can be troublesome for those suffering from hypertension. Learn more from the Mayo Clinic, here.
  • Insomnia:
    As we all know, caffeine is often used as a stimulant to increase alertness. That’s why many people are so dependent on their morning cup of Joe. So, if caffeine is still in your system at bedtime, falling asleep may be a challenge and symptoms similar to insomnia may arise. If you also experience the Unexpected Leak™ overnight, caffeine related insomnia can make a good night’s sleep a difficult thing to achieve.
  • Indigestion:
    A common observation among caffeine lovers is an upset stomach or indigestion, which mainly occurs when it is consumed on an empty stomach. If you already suffer from a weak bladder, a stomach ailment may simply increase the frequency of your trips to restroom. Not an ideal scenario.
  • Headaches:
    While you may experience some temporary relief from headaches with small doses of caffeine, overconsumption can lead to severe headaches and migraines. Just like most things in life, balance is key!
  • Increased Anxiety:
    Believe it or not, caffeine has been linked to anxiety and panic attacks. According to WedMD, caffeine is the most widely used mood-altering drug in the world. This could be an unfavorable combination with the anxiety caused by bladder leakage. Being on the lookout for the nearest restroom can be a mentally straining reality, which doesn’t need to be heightened by caffeine consumption. To find out more how your daily java can affect your mood, click here.
  • Inhibits Collagen Production in the Skin: We all want that youthful glow in our skin, so heavy caffeine consumers should beware!

In addition to these unfavorable reactions, there are even more ways that caffeine can alter your body or health. To get the full picture, check out the remaining 18 Harmful Effects of Caffeine.

Kick Caffeine with these Alternatives

Now that you know some of the downfalls of caffeine, let’s get into some healthier alternatives to this popular stimulant. These substitutes provide similar benefits to caffeine, like increased energy and alertness, but without contributing to urge incontinence. So, next time you’re reaching for a hot cup of coffee in the morning, try one of the following instead. Your bladder and overall health will thank you.

  • Ginkgo Biloba

    • Made from the nut of the ginkgo biloba tree and used for centuries in Chinese medicine, relieving many ailments such as asthma and fatigue
    • A great subsititue for caffeine, Gingko Biloba also increases blood flow to the brain and the extremities, giving you that similar buzz of energy
    • As the blood flow is increased, your body gets an effect that is similar to exercise, causing you to feel more awake and energized
    • Good news for all you out there that crave a hot brew in the morning, Ginko leaf can be made into a tea! Check out this video to learn how to make your very own pot.
  • Ginseng

    • Much like Ginkgo, Ginseng has been used in Chinese medicine for centuries and is derived from the ginseng root
    • Ginseng too increases the blood flow throughout your body and in turn, acts as a stimulant, providing the feeling of alertness
    • Ginseng can be consumed in many different ways, including tea and soups. Here are some recipes to help you get your ginseng on!
  • Vitamin B12

    • If you’re looking for a caffeine alternative, Vitamin B12 is a great option. One of the eight B vitamins, Vitamin B12 is essential in the proper function of the body as it provides mental clarity and energy enhancing properties
    • Another amazing benefit of Vitamin B12, one that caffeine cannot provide, is that it helps in the production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates the sleep cycle
    • So not only are you awake and energized during the day, you’re more likely to get a good night’s rest. This can be especially helpful if you experience overnight leaks! Have a look at these Vitamin B12 rich foods to get you started
  • Apples

    • Apples contain fructose, which increases blood sugar and can increase alertness. Other energizing fruits are grapes, peaches and citrus fruits, also due to their high fructose content
    • So, if you’re already eating an apple a day (to keep the doctor away), you probably don’t need that cup of joe or frosty soda!
  • Exercise

    • Probably the most beneficial thing you can do for your overall health!
    • Aerobic exercise in the morning gets the blood flowing and helps you feel much more awake. It also has countless benefits for your physical and mental health
    • For some simple, effective and bladder friendly exercise tips, check out our excercises for your core.
    • Don’t forget to use TENA® Ultra Thins when you exercise as they’re sure to protect against any leaks while keeping you comfortable
  • Breakfast

    • Simply eating a balanced breakfast in the morning can work wonders for you’re energy level while keeping you awake during the day
    • Be sure to include fresh fruit with natural sugars to give you that boost you need, as well as carbohydrates and protein for long lasting energy
    • As time isn’t always on your side in the morning, get some inspiration from these fast yet healthy breakfast ideas to keep you going all day
  • Mediation

    • Best combined with exercise, meditation is a great way to wake up and feel energized
    • Set aside some time in the morning (even if it means waking up earlier!) to do some breathing exercise that will help to center yourself before the day ahead
    • Feeling relaxed will also help you deal with the stress that can be associate with bladder weakness
    • Not sure how to meditate? Not to worry. Here are 10 tips that will get you feeling zen
  • Good Night’s Sleep

    • Often easier said than done, a good night’s sleep is THE best substitute for caffeine
    • This is the most natural way to get you feeling energized to face all the challenges that each day presents
    • To help achieve a peaceful slumber, try and avoid drinking alcohol (also a bladder irritant) and watching tv or playing on your tablet/ computer within thirty minutes of going to bed as the light can impede on your ability to fall asleep
    • Check out these tips from the Mayo Clinic to help you get those precious 8 hours each and every night
    • Also, if you experience the Unexpected Leak™ at nighttime, be sure to use TENA® Overnight pads as they protect from moderate to heavy leakage. Rest assured, they’re also extremely comfortable so you can sleep through the night and pass on that morning coffee!

As you can see, caffeine isn’t a good option if you experience bladder weakness. But not to worry, there are healthier, bladder friendly alternatives out there! Rather than reaching for a cup of coffee in the morning to help wake you up, do some Pilates. Instead of having a soda for lunch, eat foods that are rich in Vitamin B12. These healthier choices, combined with a good night’s sleep, and you’ll be on the path to forgetting caffeine for good - a lifestyle change your bladder will thank you for!


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