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Do You Have An Overactive Bladder? Certain Food And Drink Could Be To Blame

If you are like some of my patients, you may have a very active bladder that allows you to run to the bathroom to get urine. Some people have smaller bladder capacity than others and so naturally they need to urinate. Other people may eat certain foods that can irritate their bladder causing them to need to urinate. I want to explain to you what this food is and what you can do to minimize your "go away" issues.

Where is the active urine - What is it?

An overactive bladder is a mild, severe condition that can not only be a hindrance in constantly trying to find a toilet while you're in a public place, but can also have some embarrassing consequences. It is also a condition that can be accompanied by something called "urgent absence", or UI, where you have to go so badly you can't stand it and leakage of urine into your clothes; or "pressure instability," or SI, where you have a voluntary leakage of urine through laughter or sneezing. Usually UI and SI are just symptoms of a highly active bladder syndrome that can also include nocturia (waking up at night to pee) and frequency, just "go" a lot throughout the day.

As mentioned above, bladder obstruction may be due to several factors including:


  • Small bladder with less capacity than most people

  • "Neurogenic bladder" - caused by damage, or pressure, pinches the spinal cord that may occur in certain medical conditions such as spinal injury, epilepsy, Parkinson's disease, MS, and stroke, which can lead to voluntary bladder emptying.

  • Certain medicines are used to treat other conditions such as diuretics for high blood pressure, or caffeine-containing drugs.

  • Hormones. Reducing estrogen in menopause can cause bladder and urethra muscles to weaken and fall forward, resulting in more frequent urination and leakage. In men, enlargement of the prostate can cause frequent urination as well.

  • Constipation. Pressure from residues retained in the rectum may worsen the bladder.

  • Obesity. Too much stomach fat can put pressure on the bladder too.

However, the most common cause of bladder is the simple food we eat every day! These are foods that have certain compounds in them that can irritate the bladder and sometimes cause chronic inflammation. The bladder tries to wash away the irritation by causing frequent urination. Here is a list of top bladder triggers:


  • Tomato products - Tomato products generally have a lot of acid in them and can irritate the bladder. In an effort to eliminate irritation, the bladder tries to spray with frequent urination.

  • Caffeine - The stimulation in coffee and tea can really stimulate the bladder and make you more. Decaf types can help, but they also have very little caffeine.

  • Chocolate - Also contains caffeine plus other compounds such as theobromine that can interfere with bladder. White chocolate has low caffeine but still has some. Try to reduce the amount of chocolate you eat.

  • Citrus fruits - It is also very acidic, lemon, lime, orange, grapefruits, can also irritate the bladder like tomatoes. Try cutting citrus fruits and supplements with Vitamin C Ester-C to avoid further irritation.

  • Beer, wine, liquor - The "spirit" draws more water out of your body to process it through your kidneys and makes you urinate.

  • Carbon - soft drinks, champagne, tonic water, all contain carbonation that can trigger bladder and keep you dizzy regularly.

  • Hot spices - such as cayenne, jalapeno, especially when combined with tomatoes, can really make you jump into the bathroom. Not only does the spice itself irritate your bladder but they also ask you to drink more liquid to wash them.

  • Sweetener - Real sugar, honey, and artificial sweeteners like Equal, Splenda and Sweet N 'Low, can stimulate bladder as well.

  • Preservatives / Spices - MSG, salt, pepper, other kitchen spices and certain herbs like oregano and dill also have diuretic action that can make you pee more often.

  • Onions, cranberries - like tomatoes, acid-based, which can irritate the bladder. However, cranberries can also help keep the urine free from bacteria by neutralizing it with the compound it contains and circulating it.

What Can You Do to Delay Your Trip?

The best advice I can give to my patients who seem to have excessive bladder symptoms from food sources is to do the following:


  • Keep track of your symptoms and what foods seem to irritate them. Then try reducing the amount, or eliminating this diet altogether to reduce your urinary frequency.

  • Continue drinking your recommended daily intake of water, generally eight cups of 8 ounces a day, or more if you sweat a lot. Consuming enough water dilutes your urine so if you eat some of these foods they will be less irritating to your bladder.

If you have a very active bladder symptom, visit your doctor for an evaluation to determine if there is a medical condition behind it. However, if you are like my patients, the food and drink that may be taken daily causes active bladder symptoms. To get your "go" problems under control, try the suggestions mentioned above, watch what you eat and what your symptoms are. Continue to drink the recommended water to break any irritants and keep the rest healthy too!



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