Bladder Irritants: Lifestyle Strategies To Ease Problems

Bladder plays two main roles in the urinary system. The first function of this organ is the temporary storage of urine, and the second role is assistance in the expulsion of urine. 

The proper function of the bladder is crucial for the health of the urinary system and general wellbeing. The reality is that we take bladder health for granted until problems occur. 

A great deal of these problems stems from bladder irritants, which impair the function of this organ. In this post, we focus on irritants that you should avoid.

Bladder health in men

Bladder health in men is largely overlooked. Moreover, bladder and urinary tract problems in women are more common. That’s why the studies focus on women and their bladder-related problems.

When you look for bladder health info online, you immediately notice that all sites only focus on women. It’s time to discuss bladder health problems in men. After all, negligence can pave the way to more severe problems such as bladder cancer.

Men can get a bladder infection or cystitis too. Reasons behind bladder infection are numerous, such as:

Infection of bladder symptoms include:

  • Diabetes

  • Having a procedure done where an instrument is inserted into the urethra

  • Kidney stones

  • Recent use of a urinary catheter 

Men can also develop an overactive bladder-the risk increases as you age. An overactive bladder has a major impact on a man’s quality of life. The condition occurs due to malfunctioning bladder muscles and nerves that send sensations to the brain. This leads to involuntary and unnecessary contraction of the bladder muscle. 

The main sign of overactive bladder is a frequent and urgent need to urinate. You may also experience other OAB symptoms such as urinary incontinence and incomplete bladder emptying, and urinary leakage. Men tend to wake up multiple times during the night to urinate.

Stress incontinence is also a common bladder-related problem in men, just like mixed incontinence.

Those mentioned above are some of the many problems and urinary symptoms that affect a man’s bladder. You can avoid these problems. Just focus more on lifestyle modification that keeps your bladder healthy and engage in bladder training.

How can irritants affect your bladder?

Bladder irritation develops due to inflammation of the bladder lining. Conditions that include bladder pain and irritation can consist of urinary tract infection and interstitial cystitis. Other conditions that cause urinary urgency or urgency incontinence may do the same. Weak pelvic floor muscles can also negatively affect your bladder.

For some people, consuming certain foods and exposure to some substances can trigger inflammation of the bladder. Urinary frequency, urgency, and pain are significant signs of bladder inflammation.

Bladder irritants irritate the bladder muscle. In turn, muscle contraction happens, followed by symptoms described above.

You’re wondering now why some foods irritate the bladder. This subject requires further research. Bladder irritants deserve more attention. The more we know, the easier it will be to treat the bladder problem. 

Consumption of certain foods can create a fertile ground for inflammation and irritation. These foods can also trigger nerves that control frequency and urgency. This explains the symptoms of bladder irritation. 

For the treatment of bladder problems, your doctor may suggest identifying potential bladder irritants. Learn more about them below.

Bladder irritants to avoid

The list of bladder irritants is long. However, it doesn’t mean that all these foods will irritate your bladder. Sometimes one or a few foods irritate the bladder, but others don’t. Additionally, what aggravates one person’s bladder doesn’t have to harm the other man’s urinary system

Learn more about the biggest bladder irritants below. Consider avoiding consuming all of them for a week. Then, determine whether the symptom of bladder irritation has improved. Gradually start adding each of these irritants to your diet.

Please don’t add them all at once. Wait at least a day or two before you add one of these foods into your diet again. Keep monitoring your symptoms. That way, you will know which foods cause bladder irritation. Strive to avoid those irritants entirely. Or you can significantly decrease their consumption. 

Identifying bladder irritants takes time. Be patient, carefully monitor your symptoms, and tweak your diet to see what works for you or not. It may be useful to write down symptoms and their intensity.

Now that you know more about bladder irritants and how to identify them, let’s learn a thing or two about these foods and beverages. 

Coffee and tea

Fluid intake plays a major role in the irritation of the bladder. It all comes down to what you drink and how much.

Most people can’t imagine starting their day without a cup of tea or coffee. These popular beverages are common bladder irritants. Caffeine is the reason tea and coffee cause bladder irritation.

Caffeine acts as a diuretic. That’s why it increases bladder activity, i.e., bladder incontinence. As a result, it exacerbates symptoms such as urgency and frequency. Tea has a lower level of caffeine than coffee but may still irritate. Strive to decrease or avoid these beverages or opt for caffeine-free alternatives.


Everybody loves chocolate. What’s there not to like? It’s delicious, and it makes us happy! However, chocolate can also make you go to the bathroom more often.

Chocolate could irritate the bladder due to caffeine content. A serving of chocolate contains ¼ the amount of caffeine in a cup of coffee. The smartest thing to do would be to avoid chocolate.

But what if you can’t resist? Then you may want to choose white chocolate; it doesn’t have caffeine. Dark chocolate is also a good option. Considered a superfood, dark chocolate is abundant in flavonoids and contains more cocoa. It satisfies your chocolate craving, but without overeating.

Alcoholic beverages

Alcohol wreaks havoc on your health. Most people don’t know that alcoholic beverage can harm their bladder. Alcohol increases the acidity level of urine and worsens your overactive bladder symptoms.

When you drink, you also go to the bathroom more often. In other words, alcohol enhances frequency and urgency linked with bladder irritation. Alcohol can also cause gas and pressure on the pelvic floor muscle. Hard liquors have strong “burning” properties and cause painful inflammation in the bladder. 

Carbonated drinks

Carbonated beverages increase gas production in the gastrointestinal tract. This causes pressure and pain in the bladder. The best thing to do is to avoid carbonated drinks. These drinks include energy drinks, beer, champagne, soda, and even mineral water. Studies show that changing the type of beverages you consume can have a meaningful impact on bladder health. 

Spicy foods

Spicy foods irritate your tongue and mouth, but also the bladder. This is particularly the case with sauces and spicy peppers. Habanero peppers, jalapeno, and even black peppers and onions can cause or contribute to inflammation in the irritated bladder.

Not all spicy foods are the same. Some may irritate the bladder while others may not. Experiment with different spicy foods (not at the same time). Closely monitor your systems. This will help you determine whether a specific spicy food irritates your bladder or not. 


Artificial sweeteners like aspartame and saccharine cause bladder irritation in some people. Even natural sweeteners can irritate the bladder and worsen overflow incontinence. You don’t have to eliminate sweeteners entirely. Instead, you can limit the consumption and analyze the severity of symptoms. If symptoms don’t improve in a few days, consider lowering the amount. 

Processed foods

Processed foods are popular because they are cheap and delicious. These foods have little to no nutritional value. Consumption of processed foods leads to weight gain, increases diabetes risks, and contributes to other health problems.

However, they can irritate your bladder too. Processed foods contain a lot of flavorings, preservatives, and other artificial ingredients that irritate the bladder. Instead of processed foods, you may benefit more from whole foods and a well-balanced diet. 

Citrus fruits

Citrus fruits are healthful, but people with weak bladder may want to avoid them. These fruits contain a high level of citric acid, which worsens bladder control. Fruits are an essential aspect of a well-balanced diet. There is no need to avoid them entirely. You can choose less acidic kinds such as bananas or apples. Speaking of acidic food, tomatoes can also irritate your bladder.


Some people with overactive bladder may find that consumption of dairy worsens their symptoms. Fortunately, there are many non-dairy alternatives you can introduce to your diet. Also, not all dairy products are the same. Try to limit their consumption and eat them at different times. This can help you understand whether a specific dairy product has worsened your symptoms.

Bladder Training

Bladder training is a natural approach for treating urinary problems. When you have an overactive bladder, you can get used to urinating frequently or at the slightest urge. As a result, your bladder begins to think its full, even when it’s not, and you feel like you have to urinate.

By training your bladder you can prevent the urge to urinate from reoccurring.  This allows your bladder to fill more fully and gives you more control over the urge to urinate. The steps for bladder training involve:

  • Setting a fixed schedule for voiding. By following such a schedule, the body and bladder are trained to adapt to a voiding routine.

  • It often starts with a 15-minute interval between voiding sessions.

  • This can then be increased by 15 or 30 minutes at a time.

  • The ultimate goal of bladder training is to ensure a person can feel comfortable without urination for up to four hours. 

Pelvic floor exercise

Pelvic floor muscles help to control urination. You can strengthen these muscles by regularly doing pelvic floor exercises, commonly referred to as Kegels.

For many men locating the pelvic muscles can be a struggle. To find your pelvic muscles try to stop and start your urine stream when urinating.

Remember not to tense your buttocks or your legs and abdomen. Also, take note to keep breathing calmly.

When you have successfully slowed down or stopped your urine, you will be able to hit the target muscle. The muscles you use to stop your urine flow are your pelvic muscles, and these are the ones you want to strengthen.

Lifestyle modifications

Certain medications, excess weight, smoking and physical inactivity can contribute to bladder control problems.

  • Medication: Certain drugs, such as blood pressure drugs medications, diuretics, muscle relaxants, antihistamines, sedatives and antidepressants can contribute to problems with bladder control.

  • Weight: Being overweight can affect your health in a myriad of ways, including your bladder. Weight puts pressure on your abdomen and bladder, which can result in leakage.

  • Smoking: Smokers tend to have bladder control problems and to have more-severe symptoms. Those who smoke heavily can also develop a chronic cough, which can place added pressure on the bladder and aggravate urinary incontinence.


So, in this post, we focus on bladder irritants. These are foods to avoid or reduce consumption in order to prevent irritation and inflammation. Have a food diary where you will also keep track of your symptoms. Enrich your diet with bladder-healthy foods and beverages such as cranberry juice.

Next Up


Read our Overview of Urologic Diseases and How To Manage Them.


  1. Dmochowski, R. R., & Gomelsky, A. (2009). Overactive bladder in males. Therapeutic advances in urology1(4), 209–221.
  2. Lohsiriwat, S., Hirunsai, M., & Chaiyaprasithi, B. (2011). Effect of caffeine on bladder function in patients with overactive bladder symptoms. Urology annals3(1), 14–18.
  3. Bladder control: lifestyle strategies ease problems, Mayo Clinic,
  4. Miller, J. M., Garcia, C. E., Hortsch, S. B., Guo, Y., & Schimpf, M. O. (2016). Does Instruction to Eliminate Coffee, Tea, Alcohol, Carbonated, and Artificially Sweetened Beverages Improve Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms?: A Prospective Trial. Journal of wound, ostomy, and continence nursing : official publication of The Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nurses Society43(1), 69–79.

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