Urinary Incontinence: Foods and Drinks That Make You Gotta Go

Watch Out for Bubbles and Fizz

Carbonated drinks of club soda, seltzer water, and other “sparkling” waters may irritate sensitive bladders. So if you have overactive bladder (OAB), also called urinary “urge incontinence,” limit how much you take in. If your taste runs to Champagne or other sparkling wines, keep in mind that both the fizz and the alcohol could trigger problems.

Caffeine Can Make You Go Early and Often

Coffee, tea, energy drinks, and colas can all lead to more bathroom visits.  Drinks that have it also contain acid, which can bother the bladder. Try decaf drinks, low-acid coffees, and non-citrus herbal teas.

Choose White Chocolate Instead

Bad news: Chocolate has caffeine and acid. So eat less of it, and don’t snack on it late in the evening. You could try white chocolate instead, since it has little or no caffeine.

Citrus Might Be Your Bladder’s Pet Peeve

Oranges, grapefruits, clementines, lemons, and limes are all acidic and can make it harder to control the urge to pee, whether you eat them or drink their juice. If you think a certain food might be setting off your symptoms, stop eating it for a while, then slowly add small amounts back in to your diet to see if things change.

Be Aware of Acidic Fruits

You may find that pineapple isn’t your friend either. That’s because — you guessed it — it’s acidic, just like citrus. If you’re looking to add a tropical perk to a dish, use shredded coconut instead.

Too Many Tomatoes Can Trigger The Urge

This acidic food can bother your bladder and make OAB symptoms worse. You may have to cut back on tomato-based foods like spaghetti sauce, chili, and ketchup, too.

Cranberries: Friend and Foe to the Bladder

They help some people avoid getting bladder and urinary tract infections. But because they’re acidic, these berries and juices made from them could spell trouble if you have OAB. Another perk of eating less acidic foods? It may help tame heartburn.

Less Alcohol Equals More Control

Beer, wine, liquor — alcohol in any form makes you need to pee more. It also interferes with brain signals to the bladder about when to go. So limit how much you drink, or stop drinking if you have sensitivity.

Know Your Spice Limits

Four-alarm chili. Fiery salsa. Wasabi. Hot eats like these may do more than tingle your taste buds or make your eyes water. You can dial down the spiciness without making your diet bland, though. Just test out how much heat you can handle without affecting your bathroom habits. It may take some trial and error. Everyone’s tolerance is different.

Curb Your Sweets

Artificial sweeteners, sugar, and honey may set off your symptoms. Take a break from them and see what happens.

Avoid Raw Onions

Cook them to make them easier on your system. You could also switch to the milder, onion-like shallot, too.

Choose Carefully From the Fruit Basket

It’s not just citrus fruits that can trigger the need to pee. Other fruits like apples, bananas, and grapes could be to blame, too. If you think a certain food has caused you extra trips to the bathroom, try a little test. Stop eating it for a while, then start again in small amounts to see if the symptoms return.

Skip the Rich and Creamy on the Cheese Platter

Some people find that these treats make OAB symptoms worse, especially aged cheeses and sour cream. If your bladder can’t handle the real things, switch to imitation sour cream or processed, non-aged cheese.

Good for Digestion, but Can Bug OAB

If you’re taking medication for OAB, prunes can help you manage the constipation that may go along with it. But these sweet, dried fruits can bug your bladder. One way to help handle constipation is to get more fiber. So eat plenty of fiber-rich produce, like peas and carrots.

Go Light on Condiments

Soy sauce, vinegar, ketchup, mayonnaise… lots of condiments contain acids or other problem ingredients. Give your meals zing with bladder-friendly spices like rosemary, dill, thyme, and garlic instead.

Ditch Processed Foods for a Home-Cooked Meal

Artificial flavors, preservatives, and additives like MSG and benzyl alcohol may irritate the bladder. Read nutrition labels carefully to avoid them. Another good way to control what’s in your food is to cook at home more often. Use fruits, vegetables, and whole grains that you know won’t bother you.

Do Some Detective Work

Let’s say you have coffee and an orange with breakfast, a soda with lunch, a chocolate bar as a mid-afternoon snack, and spicy Thai food with a nice glass of wine for dinner. That may sound yummy, but any of those things might affect your bladder. Ask your doctor if it would help to take a break from certain foods and add them back one at a time to see if it makes a difference.

© 2005 – 2018 WebMD LLC. All rights reserved.

How to Treat Bladder Problems

Embarrassed About Bladder Problems?

No one likes to talk about it, but incontinence is common. Here’s what you can do to minimize accidents and how your doctor can help.

incontinenceTake Charge

Don’t let fear of bladder accidents keep you from an active life filled with work, friends, and family. Incontinence isn’t a normal part of aging, or something you just have to live with. There are plenty of things you can do. The sooner you call your doctor, the faster you can get treated.

First Steps

It’s not easy to talk about incontinence. That’s why women wait, on average, 6 years before they get help. Take the first step and call your doctor. He might refer you to a specialist who treats urinary conditions. At your first visit, ask if your diet, health problems, or medicine could be causing the problem.

What Type of Incontinence Is It?

Before your doctor can treat it, he needs to know what kind it is. If you release urine when you cough, laugh, or sneeze, that’s likely stress incontinence. If you have a sudden need to go before leakage happens, that’s probably urge incontinence. Some people have a combination of the two.

Your Doctor Visit: What to Expect

He’ll examine you and ask about your health, symptoms, medicines you take, and the type of accidents you have. He might suggest you keep a diary to record every time you go to the bathroom or have wetness.

Tests to Diagnose Incontinence

Your doctor will evaluate your symptoms and rule out any other medical conditions. He may order tests to check for infections or other problems, as well as a bladder stress test.

Kegel Exercises

Squeezing muscles you already use several times a day can help prevent leaks. Kegel exercises work the ones in your pelvis that you use to start and stop the flow of pee. 

To do a Kegel, squeeze and hold for about 10 seconds. Then release. Do about 10 sets three to five times a day. It may take up to 3 months before you notice a change.

Retrain Your Bladder

Want more control? Schedule your bathroom visits at regular intervals — for instance, every 2 hours. If you have to go before the time is up, use Kegels or relaxation techniques to hold it in until the urge passes. After a while, you’ll train yourself to go less often, with longer and longer periods between restroom breaks.

Medicine

Drugs can treat urges related to overactive bladder. Some control its contractions, others keep it relaxed. Side effects may include dry mouth, fatigue, and blurred vision.

Other Treatments

Women can insert a pessary device into the vagina that helps control leakage.

Another option: Doctors can inject collagen and other bulking substances to thicken tissues around the bladder neck and narrow the opening.

You could also consider getting sling or suspension surgery, which lifts the urethra and bladder neck back into place. For urge incontinence, painless nerve stimulation can stop your body from telling you your bladder is full.

Pick Your Protection

You can buy products designed for bladder protection in stores and online. You’ll find disposable and reusable versions. Some are specially fitted for men or women.

For light to moderate wetness, a liner or pad that attaches to your underwear may be all you need. Fitted briefs or protective underwear can handle more liquid.

Get Back Out Into the World

A few routine changes can help prevent leaks and get you back to your favorite activities. Don’t stop drinking fluids — you’ll get dehydrated. Limit each drink to 6 to 8 ounces, and don’t have them within 2 to 4 hours of bedtime.

Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and artificial sweeteners, which increase the urge to go. If you’re overweight, drop a few pounds to ease pressure on your bladder. And don’t smoke. It’s bad for your bladder, too.

Treatment for Men

Men can become incontinent after an illness or injury, or when an enlarged prostate gland  blocks the regular flow of urine from the bladder. Like women, men can often get relief with bladder retraining, lifestyle changes, and Kegels.

Medications can help relax or shrink the prostate if that’s the problem. Your doctor may also suggest surgery, like artificial sphincters or male slings, which support the urethra and keep it closed when necessary.

© 2015 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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