Food and drinks to avoid with a leaky bladder

Food and drinks to avoid with a leaky bladder

If you constantly have an urge to run to the restroom with that “gotta-go” feeling in your bladder, you are not alone.

According to the Urology Care Foundation (UCF), about 33 million Americans have overactive bladder. But the real number is likely higher, as many people living with the condition don’t seek help or about it. While some may be embarrassed, others don’t realize overactive bladder is a condition that can be treated.

Overactive bladder (OAB) isn’t a disease, but a name of a group of urinary symptoms, according the UCF. The most common symptom is a sudden uncontrollable urge to urinate. Some people will also leak urine when they feel this urge, known as urinary incontinence.

Some common treatments for OAB include medications, botox injections and lifestyle changes. In fact, in some cases, overactive bladder can be triggered by consuming bladder-irritating foods and beverages.

“If you are suffering from OAB, changing your diet may reduce your symptoms,” says Dr. Sean George, a urogynecologist at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago.

So which foods and drinks should you avoid?

Dr. George says the top offenders include:

  • Carbonated drinks. Soda, seltzer water, other sparkling waters and even bubbly alcohol can irritate sensitive bladders.
  • Caffeine. Ever notice that you are running to the bathroom more often after drinking a couple cups of coffee? Drinks that have caffeine also contain acid, which can irritate the bladder.
  • Acidic foods and drinks. Just like with caffeine, acidic fruits like pineapple, oranges, grapefruits and lemons can all make it harder to control your urges.
  • Alcohol. Whether carbonated or not, in any form, alcohol makes you have to pee more frequently. In addition, the alcohol interferes with signals from the brain to the bladder about when you have to go, so limit your consumption if you have OAB.
  • Cranberry juice. Since cranberry juice helps fight urinary tract infections and bladder infections, many assume it helps with OAB. But because of its acidic content, it often makes symptoms worse, causing you to pee more frequently.

Finally, your best bet when it comes to OAB is being your own detective, says Dr. George. See what works and doesn’t work for you. If you are having a particularly bad day or week, eliminate top offenders from your diet and add them back one at a time to determine the main culprit.

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About the Author

Jackie Hughes
Jackie Hughes

Jacqueline Hughes is a former manager, media relations at Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care. Previously, she was the public affairs and marketing manager at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, IL. She earned her BA in psychology at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. Jackie has 10 plus years experience working in television and media and most recently worked at NBC 5 in Chicago. In her free time, she enjoys swimming, going to the movies and spending time with her family.