We all hear about how overuse of caffeine can be hard on the bladder. We know that drinking water is healthy for more than just your urinary tract, but for the skin, hair, and organs. But did you know that all that sparkling water, sweetener, and alcohol may be causing increase urinary frequency, pain, and leaking?
Bladder irritants are foods, drinks, or other substances that may cause the lining of the bladder to become overactive and irritated. This may cause increased risk for urinary tract infections, and increased frequency of urination, meaning you feel like you’re running to the bathroom every 20 minutes. You may have increased spasms or contractions in the bladder muscles leading to pain and discomfort.
So, what are potential bladder irritants? According to the Mayo Clinic, bladder irritants may include the following
Coffee, tea and carbonated drinks, even without caffeine (Yes, that sparkling water may be irritating your bladder)
Certain acidic fruits — oranges, grapefruits, lemons and limes — and fruit juices
Avoiding these or limiting the above foods and/or drinks may help alleviate frequent urges to urinate, limit daily bathroom trips, and limit the risk of leaking between bathroom trips.
If you’re saying to yourself, “Yeah right, all of those are things I can’t live without.” Start with cutting back on one thing, just one. Say you are an avid coffee and tea drinker, try to limit your intake from 10 cups a day (yes, this may be an exaggeration) to say 8 cups a day and replace those other 2 with plain or fruit infused water. (Yes, some fruits may also be irritants, so just be mindful of what your triggers are.)
Just because something is on this list does not mean that you will be affected, so start with tracking what you’re taking in, food and drink, and then track your symptoms, how often do you go to the bathroom, how long between bathroom trips, how long does it take you to go to the bathroom each time? Answering some of these questions can give you a better understanding and a clues about how your body responds to the food and beverages you ingest.
Still having difficulty? Still going to the bathroom more often than you feel is “normal”? It may be time to get a more individualized evaluation and treatment plan that fits your life and your needs. Your physician can help with this and may refer you to pelvic floor physical therapy for further evaluation.
Keep in mind that everyone is different and, as always, these are simply guidelines.