Post-holiday Stress and Your BladderBy: Rebecca Roedersheimer
Many of us have just finished one of the most stressful times of the year. Although holidays are meant to bring feelings of joy and happiness, they can also produce emotional stress. Pressures from extended family, countless events to attend and an eating schedule that’s way out of the norm are all contributors. However, the stress is not limited to its emotional effects. Stress can contribute to some urinary problems.
Over imbibing in alcohol, caffeine and carbonated beverages at holiday parties can increase symptoms of frequency, urgency and urge incontinence. As both a stimulant and a diuretic, caffeine helps rid your body of fluids. It only makes sense that consuming excessive caffeine means you’ll likely urinate more often. Alcohol, on the other hand, can have a longer-term and more serious effect on your urinary system. Not only does alcohol interfere with the proper absorption of vitamins and minerals, it can damage your kidneys. Put the two together and the situation worsens for those with a serious alcohol problem. Caffeine can exacerbate the negative side effects of drinking by impairing the kidneys’ ability to filter waste.
People with overactive bladder—and even those without it—may find themselves going to the bathroom more frequently when they are nervous. Even if they can’t go, they may experience a sensation of urgency to go. Many physicians believe this is often a result of nerves that prevent a person from relaxing his or her pelvic floor muscles enough to completely empty the bladder.
Patients with interstitial cystitis may notice more frequent flare ups in their symptoms during times of emotional stress. Interstitial cystitis (IC) is a long-term inflammation of the bladder wall, also called painful bladder syndrome. Its symptoms are very similar to a urinary tract infection, such as urinary urgency and/or pelvic pain, but lack an identifiable cause such as bacterial infection. Nearly 12% of women experience IC, which is ten times more often than men.
Now that the holidays have passed, my best advice is to quickly return to your healthy routines. Eat a sensible diet. Drink plenty of water. Find ways to exercise, even when the weather outside isn’t cooperating. And, get plenty of rest. Returning to a normal routine can help your body, as much as your mind get ready for a New Year.