Is Your Diet Making Your Bladder Symptoms Worse?

While you may consider your bladder health an embarrassing subject to breach with close friends, let alone your health care provider, remember that it’s something that physicians talk about daily. To us, it’s science and it can be a telling sign of your overall health. Frequent urination – or having to use the restroom more than eight times in 24 hours – could be a symptom of a greater problem or it could be the problem. Either way, there are treatment options available and you can regain a normal life.

Women who are experiencing frequent urination without additional symptoms might be suffering from overactive bladder. Overactive bladder affects an estimated 17 to 53 million Americans. We do not know why the condition occurs and it is unclear whether childbirth has any relationship to it. In addition to frequent urination, other symptoms include waking up more than two times per night to urinate; urgency, or a sudden and strong desire to urinate; and urge incontinence, or accidentally wetting yourself due to not getting to a bathroom in time.

The foods and beverages we consume play a critical role in our body’s functioning and our bladder habits. There are some simple diet modifications you can try that may improve your bladder control. These techniques can be used before you seek other treatment options, such as medications or surgery, or in combination with them. Sometimes, diet modifications may be enough to treat your problems.

Potential Dietary Irritants to the Urinary Tract

What causes bladder irritation can vary from person to person, but here are some common foods and beverages that can irritate your bladder or contribute to leakage of urine.

Acidic foods to be avoided:

  • All alcoholic beverages
  • Apples
  • Apple juice
  • Cantaloupe
  • Carbonated drinks
  • Chilies/spicy foods
  • Citrus foods/juices
  • Coffee
  • Cranberries
  • Grapes
  • Guava
  • Lemon juice
  • Onions
  • Peaches
  • Pineapple
  • Plums
  • Strawberries
  • Tea
  • Tomatoes
  • Vinegar
  • Vitamin B complex

Other Possible Bladder Irritants

  • Spices, especially hot ones
  • All wheat, rye, corn, oats, barley and their derivatives
  • Grain alcohols
  • All vegetable fats, except olive oil
  • Bean family including ground nuts and cocoa beans (chocolate)

If these foods and beverages are regular parts of your diet, try eliminating them for 10 days. This should bring significant relief. Once you are feeling better, you can begin to add these items back into your diet, one thing at a time. This way, if something does cause your symptoms, you will be able to identify what it is. As you add items back into your diet, make note of any changes in urinary urgency, frequency or incontinence. It is also crucial that you maintain significant water intake throughout this process. Water should be the majority of what you drink every day.

There are a variety of other treatment options available for patients suffering from overactive bladder and run the gamut to include exercises, lifestyle modifications, medications and in-office procedures like Botox.