It’s no secret that coffee makes you pee. Most people don’t see the harm in taking a few extra trips to the bathroom. However, too much caffeine can have consequences beyond making you go more often.
The negative health effects of caffeine on your bladder are difficult to reverse, often lasting a lifetime. Here’s what caffeine can do to your bladder and how to prevent it.
Long-term effects on bladder health
Caffeine does more than increase your trips to the bathroom. A love for coffee can have negative consequences for your bladder. One recent study found that women who drink three or more cups of coffee per day are 70 percent more likely to develop bladder problems later in life. Common bladder problems include greater frequency, discomfort while urinating or loss of control over the bladder muscles.
Consider cutting back on caffeine if frequent bathroom breaks are disrupting your daily routine. Caffeinated foods and beverages are diuretic, meaning they increase the volume of urine your kidneys produce. This increased volume makes you have to go more often, and holding it in can increase your chance of developing an infection.
Coffee, tea and other caffeinated drinks may also cause discomfort while using the bathroom. This is because caffeine is usually found in highly acidic beverages. High acid concentration irritates the bladder’s lining, which can make it painful to urinate. This problem is exacerbated in people who drink a ton of caffeine but very little water. Large volumes of coffee, tea or soda can make the urine too acidic.
In some cases, too much caffeine can lead to a leaky bladder. Caffeine messes with the part of your nervous system that regulates urinary tract muscles. It can make these muscles overactive and cause you to lose control over the bladder. Overactive urinary muscles cause bladder leaks that are often inconvenient and embarrassing.
How to stay energized without caffeine
To protect your bladder, the best course of action is to reduce your caffeine intake. This doesn’t mean you have to give up coffee forever! However, drinking as little caffeine as possible will do wonders for your bladder health. Drink one fewer cup per day or swap out your afternoon serving with decaf. Brew smaller portions and avoid ordering a large cup at coffee shops.
After cutting back on caffeine, you may find that you don’t need it at all! There are other ways to stay energized that promote good bladder health. Consider working these alternatives into your daily routine.
- Drink a glass of water: When you feel groggy, your body isn’t asking for caffeine. What it really needs is water! A leading symptom of dehydration is tiredness. Before you start a pot of coffee, reach for a glass of water instead. Cool, refreshing water can dispel feelings of grogginess as much as caffeine.
- Get some fresh air: Going outside can energize you in multiple ways. Fresh air and a change of scenery is just what you need to revitalize the senses. Just 30 minutes of sun exposure per day can regulate your circadian rhythm, helping you feel sleepy at bedtime and energized at work. Going outside also gets you moving, and any amount of exercise will naturally make you feel more awake.
- Do some light exercise: You don’t have to grind out a rigorous HIIT session to boost your energy levels. When you take a break from work, use that time to stretch, go for a walk or complete a simple yoga flow. The more you move, the more energy you need. As a result, cells will start to ramp up their energy production. Even light exercise can make you feel more alert. Plus, exercise creates endorphins that put you in a better mood. Endorphins are a must when you’re cranky from caffeine withdrawals!
- Try aromatherapy: Freshly brewed coffee isn’t the only smell that can invigorate your senses. Essential oils like eucalyptus, lemon and peppermint can wake you up without the need for caffeine. These particular scents are known to increase focus and productivity at work. Dab a couple drops on your wrists or plug in an essential oil diffuser at your cubicle. You can also purchase lotions infused with essential oils.
Saying goodbye to caffeine doesn’t mean you have to move through life like a zombie. In fact, caffeine alternatives will give you more sustainable energy than coffee. Not only will you feel more awake, but your bladder will be a lot healthier. Remember: there’s no need to quit cold turkey—the road to a healthy bladder starts one cup at a time!