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5 Signs to Drink More Water

Hi friends!  How much water have you had today?  Do you know how much water you should drink each day?  Most of us would benefit from drinking more water, but the amount of water we should drink depends on so many different factors.  Our activity level, the climate we live in, the medications we take, the health conditions we have, and the foods we eat can all change the right amount of water that we should consume.  According to Harvard Health, for healthy people six cups (48 ounces) is generally a good rule, but it is recommended to ask your healthcare providers how much you should drink.  Aside from a set number, there are some signs we can watch for that may mean we need to drink more water.



#1 Only A Little Urine Comes Out

While several issues can cause only a little urine to come out when you go to the toilet, dehydration is one of the most common causes (Stratton, 2023).  We produce less urine when we are dehydrated meaning there is less that needs to come out when we are ready to empty our bladders. By drinking more water, our kidneys can produce more urine because they don’t need to save as much water as possible.

 

Pelvic floor muscle overactivity and dysfunction can also be a cause of little urine coming out because the muscles that wrap around the urethra have a hard time lengthening to physically let the urine out.  If this happens to you regularly, talk with your healthcare provider.

 

#2 Your Urine Is A Deep Yellow

The color of your urine has been shown to be a good indicator, in healthy adults, of how hydrated you are (Belasco, 2020).  A color scale of pale yellow to dark greenish brown can help to measure.  Our urine is a mix of water, electrolytes, and waste that has been filtered out by our kidneys (Cleveland Clinc, 2021).  When we aren’t drinking enough water, our urine becomes more concentrated because our body is trying to hold onto more water and not letting it flush out in our pee.  This concentrated urine turns a darker yellow or amber color (Cleveland Clinic, 2021).  If your urine is always clear, or colorless, you may be drinking too much water which can cause electrolyte imbalances (Cleveland Clinic, 2021).  Aim to drink enough water to keep your urine a light straw/honey color. 



#3 Your Urine Has Strong Odor

One of the signs of dehydration is urine odor.  Concentrated urine can smell like ammonia (Vorvick, 2023).  If you are healthy and drink plenty of fluids your urine will not typically have a strong smell.  Aside from not drinking enough water, we can also have urine odor with eating certain foods (like asparagus), infections, and certain conditions like diabetes and liver disease (Vorvick, 2023).

 

#4 Your Poop Is Hard

When we are dehydrated this can make our poop physically harder (El-Sharkawy, 2015).  Typically this is a type one or type two on the Bristol Stool Scale.  Our digestive systems reabsorb some of the water as stool passes along on it’s way to the rectum.  When we are dehydrated, our digestive system tries to reabsorb more of the water, leaving us with harder, dryier stools that are hard to get out.  On the other hand, when we are hydrated, it allows more water to remain in the stool which helps it to stay soft and squishy, like a banana.  It’s important to note that stool consistency is influenced by many other things, but dehydration is one of the most common.



#5 You Are Leaking Urine

Dehydration can cause leakage in two ways.  First, when we are dehydrated, we have darker, more odorous urine because our urine is more concentrated.  This concentrated urine can irritate the lining of the bladder causing stronger urges to pee.  This strong urge can lead to urinary leakage called urge urinary incontinence.  Drinking more water will help to make pee less concentrated and therefore less irritating and easier to keep in the bladder until we’re in the bathroom and ready to go.  When you are having leakage, we know that you may avoid liquid because logically is seems like this will cause less leakage, but in fact, you may be making symptoms worse!



The second way that dehydration can cause leakage is by making us constipated.  The bladder and rectum can influence the way each other function because they sit very close to one another.  As your rectum fills with stool, this creates less space for the bladder and can cause more issues with leakage.  If you are noticing urinary leakage and/or constipation a pelvic floor therapist can be a great resource to help address both issues.  Products like flax seed or fiber supplements can be helpful to move stool throughout the digestive tract for healthy poop. You can also perform an abdominal bowel massage to stimulate the movement of poop along your colon if you are constipated.


If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, talk with your healthcare provider, but remember there is help and there is hope—you don’t have to suffer in silence.  If you think you may have pelvic floor dysfunction, ask your provider for a referral to a therapist near you, or find one at www.mypfm.com/find-a-pt.

 

To learn more about your pelvic floor muscles, check out these great resources:

 

For providers, check out myPFM Academy to learn more so you can better help your clients. With two membership options, you have access to courses, a growing library of patient handouts, hundreds of custom sharable images and infographics, and multilingual resources.  At myPFM Academy you’ll find courses like: 

  • Treatments for OAB with Dr. Sarah Boyles, MD, MPH, FACOG, FPMRS

 

Written by Emily Reul, PT, DPT

 

References

  1. Belasco R, Edwards T, Munoz AJ, Rayo V, Buono M.  The effect of hydration on urine color objectively evaluated in CIE L(*)a(*)b(*) color space.  Front Nutr. 2020;7:576974. Doi:10.3389/fnut.2020.576974.

  2. Cleveland Clinic website.  What the color of your pee says about you.  Published November 7, 2021.  Accessed March 2, 2024. www.health.clevelandclinic.org/what-urine-color-means.

  3. El-Sharkawy AM, Sahota O, Lobo DN.  Acute and chronic effects of hydration status on health.  Nutr Rev. 2015;73(2):97-109.  Doi: 10.1093/nutrit/nuv038.

  4. LeWine HE.  How much water should you drink? Harvard Health Publishing website.  Published May 22, 2023.  Accessed March 4, 2024. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/how-much-water-should-you-drink.

  5. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website.  Eating, diet, & nutrition for constipation: what should I eat and drink if I’m constipated?  Published May 2018.  Accessed March 2, 2024. www.niddk.nih.gove/health-information/digestive-diesases/constipation/eating-diet-nutrition.

  6. Stratton KL.  Urine output – decreased.  MedlinePlus website.  Published July 1, 2023.  Accessed March 2, 2024.  www.medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003147.htm

  7. Vorvick LJ.  Urine odor.  MedlinePlus website.  Published July 8, 2023.  Accessed March 2, 2024.  www.medlineplus.gov/ency/article/007298.htm

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