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Bladder Irritants: Is food giving you a grumpy bladder?

bladder irritants

Do you ever get the impression that certain foods and beverages make you feel like you have to urinate ALL THE TIME?  Maybe your morning coffee or a soda at the movie theater?  How about all those Valentine’s Day chocolates you just inhaled?  Don’t worry, you aren’t dreaming this up.  There are certain foods (the ones everybody loves) that aren’t loved by your bladder. In fact, they are bladder irritants.

As discussed in Urology Austin’s last blog on overactive bladder, your dietary choices can be a contributing factor to many of the overactive bladder symptoms listed below:

  • Strong sense of urinary urgency
  • Urinary leakage when you do feel you have to go
  • An uncomfortable pressure in your lower abdominals (belly) that never goes away
  • Waking up multiple times a night to urinate (nocturia)

These are all signs that your bladder may be agitated by your dietary choices.

So, What Exactly Are The Typical Bladder Irritants?

Unfortunately, it’s usually all the things people find yummy:

  • Coffee – BOTH caffeinated and decaf
  • Carbonated ANYTHING (soda, carbonated water)
  • Alcohol
  • Citrus (lemons, limes, grapefruit)
  • Acidic foods/beverages
  • Spicy foods
  • Tomatoes (e.g., marinara sauce and salsas)
  • Milk
  • And last but certainly not least, chocolate

Now, this list isn’t 100% inclusive.  I have had patients tell me NOTHING bothers them from this list and some tell me EVERYTHING bothers them.  Just be mindful.  If you eat or drink something and experience any overactive bladder symptoms, it may be from what you consumed.  As an alternative, try switching it up. Take out things in your diet that are on the “no no” list.  For example, if you can’t cut out your daily coffee or tea, try tipping the scale in your favor by increasing your daily water intake while decreasing the amount of tea or coffee you consume.

One other item that doesn’t typically come to mind as a bladder irritant: concentrated urine!

If you think cutting your fluid intake will reduce your urge to urinate, it may not work the way you hope.  Decreasing your daily water intake will lead to more highly concentrated urine and that’s not a good thing for those struggling with overactive bladder.  As a general rule of thumb, the average person should drink 64 oz. of pure water every day.  That equals 8 glasses of 8 oz. (or 4 of the standard size water bottles you typically buy at the grocery store).  My colleague, Sara Sauder, wrote a blog about how to drink water correctly. Not only is it a great read but it is pretty funny to boot.

Written by Alison Gallup, PT, DPT, OCS

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