Could “Holding It” Be as Bad as Drinking and Driving?

Have you ever taken a road trip? Or sat in traffic for a long period of time? If so, then you may be familiar with the uncomfortable urge to “void your bladder” while on the road. And if you’re like many people, you may wait until the last possible minute to turn off of the highway or pull over at a rest stop.

But according to Peter Snyder, Ph.D., vice president of research for Lifespan, “holding it” for too long is not only bad for your physical health, but it can affect your driving as well.

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Snyder and his team of researchers were recently recognized with an Ig Nobel Prize for their research: “The Effect of Acute Increase in Urge to Void on Cognitive Function in Healthy Adults.” They found that when you’re faced with a strong urge to urinate, your cognitive functions are impaired similarly to what you would experience after drinking alcohol or being sleep deprived.

While it may sound unusual, this type of research could have serious implications for both older Americans, who are more prone to overactive bladders, and for drivers of all ages.

Driving demands your full attention. Therefore, anything that could distract you-or impair your cognitive functions in any way-should be avoided. So next time you’re on a trip and you feel that familiar urge, keep Snyder’s research in mind and head to a rest stop as soon as possible.

What do you think about this study? Could driving with a full bladder actually be as dangerous as driving when drowsy, or driving after having a drink?

For more information, visit AARP’s Driver Safety page.

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