How Alcohol Impacts Your Bladder

Coffee, tea, energy drinks, and sodas are just a few of the different beverages that can ramp up an already overactive bladder (via WebMD). If you've ever spent an evening socializing over drinks, then you probably know firsthand how alcohol can also increase your need to pee. Why does this happen, and does this increase in urine output have any potential negative side effects for our bladder?

Alcohol acts as a diuretic (via Healthline), meaning it prompts the release of excess liquid from the body, according to Medical News Today. When we drink, alcohol impacts our kidney function by blocking the release of ADH — a hormone that tells your kidneys to retain water. Without receiving that message to hold water, our kidneys release more liquid. So much so, that even if you consumed the same amount of water as you did alcohol, the alcoholic beverage would still prompt more bathroom trips than the water, reports Healthline.

While increased urination may initially sound like nothing more than a mild inconvenience, peeing too much can cause us to become dehydrated, warns Healthline. But alcohol can also have a more direct effect on our bladder.

Certain alcoholic beverages may be kinder to your bladder than others

Health experts at Mayo Clinic report that drinking alcohol can irritate the bladder, potentially contributing to incontinence. Interestingly, research shows that the effects of alcohol on our bladder can vary based on the type of alcoholic beverage consumed (via Healthline). A 2017 study involving older men determined that moderate consumption of beverages with lower concentrations of alcohol, such as beer, had less of a diuretic effect than stronger beverages such as wine and liquor.

But experts say we may be able to even further narrow down the types of alcohol likely to upset an already overactive bladder. Per the University of Colorado, when it comes to wine selection, these individuals are better off opting for white wines over reds. This is because red wines contain more tannins, which are known to cause bladder irritation.

To help reduce trips to the bathroom the next time you're out and about, experts at Healthline suggest drinking alcohol in moderation, staying adequately hydrated with water, and emptying your bladder before bedtime. In addition, ordering beverages with lower alcohol concentrations, such as beer, will have you peeing less than a mixed drink.