Break the Seal is Real: Booze and Your Bladder

April 11, 2014

As the night goes on when you are out at the bar, the line for the bathroom gets longer and longer. And it feels like you have to go really bad. Coincidence? You’ve been drinking all night; it makes sense that you would have to use the bathroom. Would you have to go the same if you had been drinking water? We’ve heard the collective wisdom about “breaking the seal”, the idea that alcohol makes you have to pee more than normal, and once you do, you need to go all night. Is there any truth to that?

Your body maintains a hydration balance between water and electrolytes. If you remember back to your biology classes, your muscles and nervous system communicate by sending electrical signals throughout the body. Having the right balance of electrolytes and water makes this happen. Too much water, and the electrolytes are diluted too thin to properly transmit signals. Too much electrolytes, and there is not enough water to keep the system running properly.

Hence, eating salty foods makes you thirsty, because your body craves water to restore balance. And sometimes, after drinking a water, you get that feeling where water “sits” in your stomach, because there are not enough electrolytes to properly absorb into your body.

One of the keys in maintaining this balance are your kidneys. The kidneys are the primary way that your body filters toxins and junk and unnecessary stuff (which could be water or electrolytes) out of the blood stream. Under non-drunk circumstances, this typically works quite well. The kidneys separate the toxins, and leave in what is good. From your kidneys, this filtered stuff goes to your bladder to be peed out.

Of course, what this article is building to, is that this system of kidney filtering breaks down under the influence of alcohol.

This is what your kidneys look like. Basically. Be nice to them.

Your kidneys utilize a hormone called vasopressin. This hormone encourages your kidneys to conserve and retain water, preventing dehydration. It stops them from filtering out good water with the bad toxins. This is a good thing, and keeps you from peeing too much water.

Alcohol messes with the proper functioning of vasopressin, inhibiting its production and effectiveness. So your kidneys, not knowing any better, filter out more and more water into your bladder, making you have to go to the bathroom even more than you should. And, once you go to the bathroom that first time, since alcohol also impairs your motor skills, your body can’t hold it in as good the next time, making you have to pee even more.

Let’s say you have four drinks. Alcohol makes is so that, not only will you urinate four-drinks-worth of liquid, you will also urinate extra water, which leads to dehydration.

So what’s an option to keep your bladder in order when drinking? Take extra electrolytes. Your body is always trying to maintain that proper balance between electrolytes and water. If the kidneys and vasopressin are a little drunk, cellular osmosis will still work to maintain the proper electrolyte-water balance.

So yes, “Break the Seal” is very real. But taking a couple Brode Electrolyte Vitamins while drinking can help keep you on the dance floor–and out of the bathroom line.