It’s a commonly held belief that drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day is good for you. While this belief has long been discredited, for those who have overactive bladder (OAB) syndrome, this 8x8 “rule” is especially problematic: A high fluid intake means an uncomfortable increase in OAB symptoms—urinary frequency and urgency.
Now a new report, published inThe Journal of Urology, has helped confirm that people with OAB can safely cut back their fluid intake to ease their symptoms. Researchers reviewed studies published since 1972 and couldn’t find evidence that drinking eight glasses of water a day is beneficial in OAB sufferers. Some exceptions apply: Increasing fluid intake can help prevent kidney stones in people at risk and benefit people with chronic constipation, for example. But most men and women who have OAB shouldn’t feel obligated to meet any high-intake formula, and rather should let thirst and common sense guide them.
What you should do
Before you try consuming fewer liquids to reduce your OAB symptoms, ask your doctor if you have any medical conditions that could be affected by fluid intake. Also, try drinking small amounts of beverages throughout the day instead of large amounts at one time. Refraining from drinking after dinner or a few hours before bedtime can help decrease nighttime trips to the bathroom.
While there’s no established evidence that the average person (with or without OAB) needs to drink eight glasses of water a day, you should take care not to become dehydrated. Your fluid intake doesn’t need to be from beverages only. About 20 percent of our fluids come from water-rich foods, such as most fruits and vegetables.
This article first appeared in the June 2018 issue of UC Berkeley Health After 50.