How to Improve Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms

How to Improve Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms

Education is the First Step to Improve Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms

Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms (LUTS) such as urgency, frequency and related worries affect nearly one-third of women, according to a recent study1. It is also generally agreed that certain beverages (coffee, tea, alcohol, carbonated and/or artificially sweetened) are potentially irritating to the bladder. Yet despite the view that these beverages are associated with LUTS, there’s little evidence that supports or refutes the value of getting a person to change their beverage choice. This article reviews a published study undertaken to determine:

  1. compliance with standardized instruction to eliminate these potentially irritating beverages (PIBs)
  2. whether LUTS improved after instruction
  3. whether symptoms worsened with partial reintroduction.2

The study evaluated the effects on LUTS of two different intake volumes of PIBs. In the first phase, the goal was to eliminate PIBs. Then after reintroduction, maintaining half the original consumption of PIBs while swapping out the remainder with primarily plain water. The authors did note LUTS reduction with PIB reduction, yet totally eliminating PIBs was difficult for most study participants.2

Without total removal of PIBs in the study, the authors cannot conclude whether the noted improvement in LUTS was from: “fewer PIBs, reduced total intake of beverages, the effect of self-monitoring bladder habits, or some combination of these.”2

Yet the authors believe that partial elimination of PIBs is still an achievable goal. Women in this study showed improved LUTS “when average PIB intake was reduced to almost half their initial intake.”2

Since many women in this study did not completely eliminate PIBs, the authors recommend taking this into account when treating women with LUTS. “Many PIBs are habit forming3,4 and many social events are tied to PIB intake.”

While the findings from this study do support teaching women to reduce PIB intake to improve LUTS, simply relying on this instruction to do so may not be sufficient reason for them to change. This is truly an area that could use further study.2

1 Coyne, K. Sexton, C. Bell, J. et al. (2013) The prevalence of (LUTS) and overactive bladder (OAB) by racial/ethnic group and age: results from OAB-POLL. Neurourology and Urodynamics 32(3) 230-237.

2 Miller, J. et al. (2016) Does Instruction to Eliminate Coffee, Tea, Alcohol, Carbonated, and Artificially Sweetened Beverages Improve Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms? Journal of Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nursing. 43(1) 69-77.

3 Alati. R. et al. (2014) Generational increase in young women’s drinking: a prospective analysis of mother-daughter dyads. JAMA Psychiatry. 71(8) 952-957.

4 Griffiths, R. and Woodson, P. (1988) Caffeine physical dependence: a review of human and animal laboratory studies. Psychopharmacology. 94 437-451.

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