Did you know that what you eat and drink can irritate your bladder to the extent of causing issues in frequency and urgency? Many people with bladder control problems decrease their intake of liquids in hope that they will need to urinate less frequently or have less urinary leakage. While a decrease in liquid intake does result in a decrease in the volume of urine, the smaller amount of urine may be highly concentrated.

Highly concentrated urine will appear dark yellow and is irritating to the inside of the bladder surface and may actually cause you to go to the bathroom more frequently. It also encourages growth of bacteria, which may lead to infections resulting in incontinence. You should not restrict fluids to control your bladder without the advice of your physician.

The American Medical Association recommends 48-64 ounces of water intake per day, or 6-8 8 ounce glasses. Many people believe that they are getting proper intake of water through other beverages that include water such as tea and coffee- this is not the case, the 6-8 ounces per day pertains to water only.

Common Foods That Cause Bladder Irritation

The following foods and beverages are known to contribute to bladder irritation which can lead to leakage and frequent trips to the bathroom. Avoiding these items as best as possible can help improves your bladder control. If you are unable to give them up completely, try using them in moderation:

  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Highly spiced foods
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Tomato based products
  • Caffeinated beverages
  • Citrus and Fruit juice 

The following substitutions may be made to satisfy cravings:

  • Low acid fruits such as pears, apricots, papaya, watermelon
  • For coffee drinkers: Kava, Postum, Pero
  • For tea drinkers: Non-citrus herbal or sun brewed tea- non-caffeinated

It is often difficult for long time coffee drinkers to give up coffee entirely all at once. It is recommended that you decrease daily intake as quickly as possible, however true dependence on caffeine can result in headaches and other  physical and emotional discomforts. Decrease at a rate that feels right for you. Some people have no issue at all stopping caffeine immediately while others take a few weeks.

Although water is always the best beverage of choice, grape and apple juice are thirst quenchers and are not as irritating to the bladder. Cigarette smoking is also irritating to the bladder surface and is associated with bladder cancer. In addition, the coughing associated with smoking may lead to increased stress incontinence episodes. Obesity can also be a contributing factor due to increased pressure on the bladder.

Amanda Thumbnail

By Dr. Amanda Olson, DPT, PRPC
Back to blog