6 Foods That Irritate the Bladder

Suffering from overactive bladder (OAB) and incontinence? Paying attention to your food and drink can help. While there is no specific diet for OAB, what you eat or drink could be worsening your symptoms. The amount of food and drink that you take can also determine how well you control your bladder. By making certain lifestyle changes, such as avoiding foods that can irritate your bladder, you can improve your bladder control as well as your response to treatment. Keep reading to discover strategies to improve bladder control.

Foods That Irritate the Bladder                                                          

1. Coffee

While your morning coffee could be so dear to you, it can be irritating to your urinary tract. The caffeine in your coffee is known to aggravate bladder and urinary tract symptoms. For people with chronic bladder inflammation (interstitial cystitis), drinking coffee worsens the symptoms. Instead of coffee, go for non-caffeinated herbal tea. And don't forget that cocoa and chocolate contain lots of caffeine as well.

2. Alcohol

If you have stomach reflux, you may be aware that wine, beer and other alcoholic drinks are irritating to your stomach. Alcohol also irritates the bladder. While you need to take lots of fluids if you have a urinary tract infection (UTI), you need to stay away from alcohol.

3. Soda

Soda is known to irritate the bladder in people who have chronic bladder inflammation. Soda can also worsen symptoms in a person suffering from a UTI. Caffeinated and citrus-flavored sodas are the most irritating for people suffering from UTI. If you are recovering from a UTI or have OAB, drink cranberry juice or plain water instead.

4. Acidic Fruits

You obviously know that fruits are part of a healthy diet. However, highly acidic fruits are among the foods that irritate the bladder and aggravate UTI symptoms. So, if you have a challenge in these two areas, stay away from oranges, grapefruits, lemons and tomatoes. Fruits such as peaches, apples, grapes, strawberries, plums and pineapples may also worsen UTI symptoms and irritate the bladder. Keep away from them and their juices.

5. Spicy Foods

Even though you enjoy your pizza with extra red pepper flakes, chicken with extra-hot curry or other spicy foods, you need to make some adjustments if you have a UTI or have an overactive bladder. Spicy foods irritate the bladder and aggravate UTI symptoms. Opt for less spicy and bladder-friendly choices that can help with UTI recovery. If you are fond of eating your food with a strong flavor, use herbs in place of spices.

6. Artificial Sweeteners

If you want to reduce calorie intake, you may opt to replace sugar with artificial sweeteners. However, if you have a UTI, artificial sweeteners may worsen the symptoms. Although studies are not conclusive that artificial sweeteners irritate the bladder or worsen UTI symptoms, it's best to stay away from them.

How to Keep Your Bladder Healthy

Around 3 in 10 people aged between 30 and 70 suffer from urinary incontinence. Apart from limiting foods that irritate the bladder, you can take the following steps to minimize trouble and keep your bladder healthy:

1. Watch Your Weight

According to leading urogynecologists, the heavier you are, the more weight is put on your bladder. Incontinence may also be prevented through regular exercise and a healthy diet containing lots of vegetables and fruits. 

2. Incorporate Kegel Exercises

To do Kegel exercises, you contract and relax pelvic floor muscles. Regular Kegel exercises can help strengthen pelvic muscles and lead to healthy bladder control for life. Women can start doing Kegel exercises before childbirth to keep the pelvic floor strong because childbirth can lead to damage in the area and organs such as the bladder and urethra. Over all, Kegel exercises are beneficial for men and women of all ages. Watch the following video and learn how to do Kegel exercises. 

3. Quit Smoking

Besides increasing the long-term risk of bladder cancer, cigarette smoke and nicotine are irritating to the bladder, leading to urine leakage. Accidental leakage can also occur as an outcome of chronic coughing resulting from smoking.

4. Avoid Contracting UTIs

UTIs can lead to temporary incontinence due to bacteria-weakened urethral muscles. While UTIs don't always lead to incontinence, UTIs increase the risks of leaking urine. In addition to avoiding the foods that irritate the bladder, emptying the bladder before and after intercourse can reduce the risk of UTIs. Drinking moderate quantities of cranberry juice when symptoms first appear may reduce bacterial growth in the urinary tract.

5. Work on Bladder Training

You can train or retrain your bladder by changing some of your habits. By going to the toilet at the same time, and steadily increasing the time between urination, you will allow your bladder to fill up more. Over time, this will help you gain control of your urge to urinate. You can follow the basic bladder-training steps below:

  • Know your urination pattern by keeping a diary and noting every time you urinate.
  • Increase the time between urination by extending the intervals by 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Stick to your urination schedule. If you feel like you might have an accident, go to the toilet. However, get back to your schedule thereafter.
  • Practice relaxation anytime you feel the urge to urinate ahead of your schedule by standing or sitting still. In this position, take several deep breaths. At the same time, contract your pelvic muscles while imagining your urge going away. If after this, you still have the urge, make your way to the toilet.
  • Gradually increase the time between urination to two to three hours. It is important to do this slowly.

6. Take Medications

Although not everyone requires medication for treatment of overactive bladder (OAB), your doctor can recommend anticholinergics. These are drugs that help in the control of muscular spasms that lead to OAB. The following are some of the most common anticholinergics:

  • dicyclomine
  • fesoterodine
  • oxybutynin
  • propantheline
  • solifenacin
  • tolterodine
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