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  • Writer's pictureCarly Gossard

Is what I'm eating and drinking contributing to my bladder symptoms?

Did you know that certain foods and drinks could be making your bladder symptoms, such as urinary incontinence, urgency, and frequency, worse? Sometimes limiting and being mindful of bladder irritants in your diet can be a simple way to decrease bladder leakage and associated symptoms.

Bladder irritants are usually things that we eat or drink, but can also include certain medications and vitamins. Below are some of the most common bladder irritants.

1) Alcohol

This may be a major bummer for some but alcohol is a bladder irritant because it is a diuretic. Diuretics cause increased urine production in the body, which can cause urinary urgency and frequency. Alcohol also irritates the lining of the bladder, which can cause increased leaking. The popular seltzers which contain alcohol, fruit juice, carbonation, and sugar can be particularly irritating due to all four components being bladder irritants. Unfortunately avoiding “breaking the seal” isn’t going to help you out here.

2) Caffeine

Caffeine of any kind can often be the culprit to bladder leakage due to its diuretic properties. Caffeine is found in tea, coffee, energy drinks, soda, and even chocolate.

3) Coffee

Coffee is definitely a bladder irritant because of its acidic nature. It is also a diuretic which will make you feel the need to urinate more frequently than normal. Decaf coffee is also considered a bladder irritant since it is still acidic.

4) Sugar

Sugar, especially artificial sweeteners can cause bladder symptoms. Cutting back on your go to sugary treats may just be the switch that works.

5) Citrus fruits and juices

This includes oranges, lemons, limes, pineapple, and grapefruit. Other fruits that can potentially irritate the bladder include strawberries, apples, cantaloupe, and peaches.

6) Carbonated beverages

The fizz in carbonated beverages comes from dissolved carbon dioxide, which can distend the bladder and cause discomfort. Additionally, some carbonated drinks may contain caffeine or artificial sweeteners, further aggravating bladder irritation. Opting for plain water or herbal teas is a healthier choice for your bladder.

7) Dairy products

Dairy is a common bladder irritant due to its calcium content, which can lead to increased urine production and bladder irritation. Additionally, some people may be lactose intolerant, and consuming dairy can cause gastrointestinal issues that indirectly affect the bladder.

8) Tomatoes

Tomatoes and tomato-based products, such as sauces, can be acidic and may irritate the bladder lining.

9) Spicy foods

Spicy foods might tantalize your taste buds, but they can cause irritation to the bladder lining, exacerbating existing urinary symptoms. Substances like capsaicin, found in chili peppers, can trigger the release of certain chemicals that irritate the bladder. While you don't have to give up spicy foods entirely, reducing their consumption might help alleviate bladder discomfort.

Tips to Minimize Bladder Irritation

1) Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of water helps dilute the urine, reducing the concentration of bladder irritants.

2) Monitor your diet: Keep track of foods and beverages that trigger bladder discomfort and try to limit their consumption.

3) Opt for alternatives: If you can't give up your morning cup of coffee, consider switching to a low-acid, decaffeinated version or herbal tea.

4) Be mindful of medications: Some medications can have a diuretic effect or contain substances that may irritate the bladder. Discuss potential side effects with your healthcare provider.

Remember, every person is unique, and what affects one person's bladder may not impact another's. If you have persistent or severe urinary symptoms, it's essential to consult with a healthcare professional for proper evaluation and guidance. Maintaining a balanced and bladder-friendly diet, staying hydrated, and adopting healthy lifestyle habits can go a long way in supporting a happy and healthy bladder.


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