Decaf & Bladder Health: How Can You Encourage Patients To Switch?

Nurse with patient drinking coffeeNurse with patient drinking coffeeNurse with patient drinking coffee

Decaf & Bladder Health: How Can You Encourage Patients To Switch?

Urinary incontinence is a common issue faced by men and women alike, often requiring visits to the doctor for extra support. Many patients with incontinence avoid drinking fluids, as they feel like it causes additional problems. As a healthcare professional, it is important to advise on the type and amount of fluid which can help to reduce symptoms and maintain bladder function.

Many drinks contain caffeine, or have artificial sweeteners, which can irritate the bladder. While they may be delicious, caffeinated drinks can be a contributing factor towards incontinence during the festive season.

As Christmas draws closer and the party season begins, it’s important to remind your patients that beer, wine, spirits and other alcoholic beverages can act as a bladder stimulant, and ultimately lead to incontinence. Moderation in alcohol consumption plays a crucial role in maintaining bladder health.

Throughout this blog, we thought we’d unwrap the connection between caffeine and incontinence while exploring some of the best ways to encourage your patients to switch to decaf.

The link between caffeine and incontinence

While you may already understand the effects of caffeine, not all of your patients will. However, there is a well-established direct link between increased incontinence and caffeine – a staple in many people's morning routines. Due to its strong diuretic properties, those with incontinence issues can struggle to improve their bladder health while consuming associated products such as tea and coffee.

Caffeine stimulates your kidneys and causes them to produce more urine by reducing your water absorption. This leads to an increase in both urine urgency and frequency and, if patients are experiencing incontinence already, discomfort.

Caffeine also causes spasms and contractions of the bladder, something which can increase the risk of incontinence. Studies have shown, for example, that a caffeine intake of more than or equal to 240 mg per day can elevate the chances of urinary incontinence.

For context, one double espresso contains around 125 mg of caffeine, so consuming just two coffees a day is more than enough to impact bladder health.

Having a coffee with a friendHaving a coffee with a friendHaving a coffee with a friend

Using decaf as a preventative incontinence measure

Decaffeinated options can act as a shield against the diuretic effects of caffeine, alleviating incontinence issues.

As healthcare advocates, it’s important to encourage patients to put proactive measures in place, empowering them to make more mindful choices. Navigating coffee shop menus full of caffeinated drinks can be easy when patients know how – and why they should be doing so.

Let them know of the effects caffeine can have on their bladder and inspire them to ask for a decaf version wherever possible. 

The ‘Taste The Difference’ challenge

Generally, patients are offered caffeinated tea and coffee during ‘drinks rounds’ – which we know can lead to a greater risk of bladder (and even bowel) incontinence. As such, the Taste The Difference challenge was set up as a project within hospitals to encourage patients to switch to decaf.

Feedback was collected from patients during the challenge, asking not only whether they could taste the difference but also if they would consider switching to decaf after finding out the health benefits.

The feedback showed over 50% of patients couldn't taste the difference and over 76% of them said they would switch to decaf after learning about the health benefits. This demonstrates that knowledge is the key to unlocking the switch to decaf.

Benefits of decaf in patients with incontinence

Switching to decaf can provide your patients with relief from urinary incontinence, making it a much more comfortable festive season.

Some of the key benefits associated with switching to decaf include:

Improved bladder control – without the diuretic effects of caffeine, patients can expect a reduction in urgency and frequency of urination. This gives them greater control over bladder function and can reduce stress during a sometimes stressful time of year. 

Enhanced quality of sleep – getting enough sleep is vital, especially during the busy Christmas period. However, drinking caffeine can lead to more frequent urination or loss of bladder control during the night. Switching to decaf can stop disruptions during sleep and improve mental wellbeing. 

Better hydration – drinking decaf helps patients maintain their fluid intake as it prevents the kidneys from over-producing urine. Being well hydrated can also prevent bladder irritation which can lead to incontinence. 

Decaffeinated beverages have come a long way in recent years and many people aren't able to tell the difference. This means your patients can still enjoy their favourite flavours without compromising their bladder health.

Women holding a cup of coffeeWomen holding a cup of coffeeWomen holding a cup of coffee

Encouraging patients to switch from caffeine to decaf

Knowing the effects caffeine has on bladder health is not something everyone will know. Whether you work in the community or a hospital setting, educating patients with incontinence on the steps they can take can make all the difference.

Some effective ways to help your patients make the switch to decaf include:

●      Provide advice on which products are available as decaffeinated

●      Empower them with the knowledge of decaf's benefits and how caffeine affects incontinence

●      Have leaflets they can take away with them so they can solidify their knowledge and share it with others

●      Be prepared for pushback from patients who are content with drinking caffeine – let them know the facts so they can make an informed decision

●      Have samples they could take home and try or signpost them to great decaf options in supermarkets

●      Advise patients that the shift can be gradual to reduce the side effects of caffeine withdrawal

Side effects of quitting caffeine

As well as highlighting the benefits, it's worthwhile letting your patients also know about some of the side effects of giving up caffeine altogether – especially if they drink it every day, multiple times a day.

Some side effects of caffeine withdrawal can include:

●      Headaches

●      Fatigue

●      Low mood

●      Irritability

●      Feeling foggy

However, these side effects tend to last only a few days as the body starts to withdraw from caffeine reliance.

Discover incontinence products with Attends

Drinking caffeine may be something most of your patients do every day, but providing them with support and information can help them make healthy choices for their bladder health.

Here at Attends, we offer a wide range of incontinence products for both men and women, as well as discreet options for those wanting to feel secure while out Christmas shopping.   

Discover the power of Attends incontinence products this festive season and help your patients manage their bladder health with ease.


Leicester Hospitals - Taste The Difference Challenge

Bladder & Bowel UK - Taste The Difference Challenge

NHS - Urinary Incontinence, Best Ways to Stop Leaks

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