Salt’s Effects on an Overactive Bladder

March 19, 2021

What is Overactive Bladder (OAB)?

Overactive bladder causes both men and women to have the sudden and strong urge to urinate. In some cases, this can eventually lead to incontinence.

What could cause it?

Aging, an enlarged prostate, and diabetes are some of the commonly known risk factors for Overactive Bladder symptoms. Diet and lifestyle factors also lead to lifestyle-related diseases which contribute to the onset of OAB. However, most specifically, the amount of salt in one’s diet could have a large impact on symptoms of overactive bladder.

There have been a number of studies detailing the connection between salt and water retention in the body. One study took it a bit farther and hypothesized that salt intake reduction overall is a useful approach for managing OAB. The study took place over six months and included participants that hit specific metrics. All participants had symptoms of OAB for at least 3 months, were not taking any medication for OAB, and had a salt intake of 7g/day or 8g/day, for women and men, respectively. Patients were not included in the study if they had urinary tract infections, any condition that affected their urinary function, were taking medications or supplements like diuretics that could affect sodium levels, or had renal disease.

The patients were given nutritional guidance and information on how to reduce sodium intake. The participants also gave a urine sample each morning to test their sodium levels. The samples were compared from before the salt reduction and again after 12 weeks. The participants were asked questions in accordance to the OABSS questionnaire (Overactive Bladder Symptom Score) and compared the answers at both points.

What were the findings?

Of the 98 patients included, 71 (72.4%) were able to successfully restricted their daily salt intake after 12 weeks, while 27 (27.6%) did not. Those in the salt restricted group improved significantly in each OABSS question as well as their total score. Approximately 24% of the restricted group did not even fulfill the diagnostic criteria for OAB after the conclusion of the study. However, in the non-restricted group, the individual scores did not change and they did not see an improvement.

Therefore, it was clear to conclude that salt intake reduction improved urinary symptoms in patients with Overactive Bladder, and may be an option for OAB in patients.

Tips on removing salt from the diet:

  • Avoid prepackaged and processed foods, as salt is commonly used as a preservative.
  • Spice your foods with salt-free seasonings and herbs, and play around with flavor profiles that you enjoy.
  • Opt for low-sodium options and pay attention to the nutrition labels.
  • Talk to servers at restaurants to request low-sodium preparation.

Austin Urology Institute offers many treatment and nutrition services that address Overactive Bladder symptoms. For more information, schedule a consult with one of our providers.