Irritation of the bladder and urethra isn’t an uncommon problem.
It affects men and women, although females are more likely to develop these problems due to shorter urethra.
The first and most important factor in the management of irritated bladder and urethra is diet modification.
Avoiding foods that irritate the bladder and urethra can make a huge difference in the severity of symptoms you experience.
Below, you’ll learn more about foods to eat and avoid.
21 foods that irritate the bladder and urethra
Some foods can irritate the lining of the bladder or upset the nervous system that controls both the bowel and bladder. They can also irritate the urethra and worsen symptoms of infection and inflammation.
To manage these problems adequately, you may want to reduce intake or avoid the following foods and beverages.
Alcoholic beverages exhibit dehydrating effects that irritate the bladder and urethra. Since it also functions as a diuretic, alcohol increases urine production and results in more frequent trips to the bathroom. This can lead to dehydration and more concentrated urine, which can wreak havoc on the urinary tract.
2. Citrus fruits and juices
Citrus fruits and juices can make the urine more acidic and thereby irritate the bladder and urethra.
You may want to avoid or reduce your intake of oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruits, and other citrus fruits and juices if you have an irritated bladder or urethra.
Like citrus fruits, tomatoes can make your urine more acidic. These foods can further irritate the bladder and urethra.
People with an overactive bladder may experience worsening of their symptoms. Besides tomato, you should also avoid tomato-based products.
4. Spicy foods
Spicy foods can inflame the lining of your bladder and the urethra. As a result, it can become difficult to control symptoms such as urinary frequency and urgency. Try to avoid chili peppers and other spices.
Caffeine acts directly onto the smooth muscle of the bladder. Consumption of caffeine may irritate the tissues of the bladder and lead to an involuntary bladder contraction. This results in urge incontinence.
Like alcohol, caffeine is also a diuretic. All these things combined explain why caffeine isn’t friendly to your bladder or urethra (1).
Chocolate contains small amounts of caffeine, which functions as a bladder stimulant and a natural diuretic.
In turn, bladder or urethral irritation worsens. Ideally, you should avoid chocolate but if you can’t do so, try to keep its intake to a minimum.
7. Carbonated drinks
Carbonated drinks irritate the bladder and urethra due to their carbon dioxide content. Basically, carbon dioxide irritates the lining of the bladder. Since the lining is irritated, your urinary symptoms become worse.
A high intake of sugar, especially artificial sweeteners, can irritate the bladder or urethra.
Sugar is a stimulant. That’s why it can increase the urgency and frequency of urination. For that reason, you may want to avoid sugar-laden products.
While cranberry and its juice are often used as remedies for urinary problems, they can also contribute to them. It’s all due to their acidic pH.
Moreover, evidence shows that cranberry can help reduce urinary symptoms, but not as a juice.
Cranberry supplements can help with that, whereas juice doesn’t really. You’d need high amounts of the fruit itself to experience the effects.
10-21. Other irritants
Besides the abovementioned foods, other bladder irritants may include:
- Dairy products
Not all foods contribute to bladder or urethra irritation in all people. It’s useful to have a food journal, especially if you struggle with frequent urinary problems.
Log your symptoms and all foods and beverages you consume. Do so for a few weeks to identify foods that worsen your symptoms. You may find that some of these fruits don’t aggravate your symptoms, whereas others do.
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13 foods to eat that are good for the bladder and urethra
Not all foods are bad for your bladder and urethra. Some of the best foods that calm your bladder and urethra include:
- Winter squash
- Green beans
- Lean proteins
- Nuts and seeds
- Whole grains
Foods that are rich in fiber are ideal for a bladder-friendly diet. You should also prioritize non-acidic foods and beverages.
What are the symptoms of bladder or urethral irritation?
Bladder or urethral irritation can cause symptoms such as (2, 3):
- Urinary urgency or a strong urge to pee
- Urinary frequency or the need to urinate more often
- Pain in the lower abdominal area
- Pain while urinating
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Penile discharge
- Itchiness at the tip of the urethra
What are some home remedies for bladder or urethral irritation?
Bladder or urethral irritation can be quite overwhelming due to symptoms that affect a person’s daily functioning and quality of life. Doctors usually prescribe antibiotics when these problems occur due to bacterial infection.
That’s not always the solution, though. Some home remedies can help you alleviate symptoms of bladder irritation or urethral irritation naturally.
- Don’t hold it in. Pee whenever you need to.
- Take a probiotic.
- Eat garlic.
- Increase vitamin C intake.
- Wipe from front to back to reduce the risk of bacterial infections.
- Wear loose clothing made from cotton or other natural materials to reduce moisture in the pelvic area (moisture contributes to infection and irritation).
- Apply a warm washcloth, heat pad, or hot water bottle onto the pelvic area to reduce pain and discomfort.
- Use herbal remedies that improve urinary symptoms, such as uva ursi (bearberry leaf), green tea, saw palmetto, horsetail, nettle, and others.
- Use dietary supplements to improve the health and function of the urinary tract.
Lifestyle changes for bladder and urethra health
A healthy lifestyle is of crucial importance to bladder and urethral health. Below, you can see some of the most important lifestyle changes to make.
1. Weight loss
Being overweight or obese puts you at a higher risk of problems affecting the bladder and urethra.
A growing body of evidence confirms that excess weight increases intra-abdominal pressure, which elevates pressure onto the bladder. This leads to excessive bladder activity and irritation of the urethra (4).
Weight is a risk factor for urinary incontinence. Each five-unit increase in body mass index (BMI) is linked to a 60% to 100% higher risk of daily incontinence (5). Studies confirm that weight loss can reduce urinary incontinence (6).
In order to support the bladder and urethral health, or to improve it, overweight or obese persons should strive to lose weight.
People who are within normal weight range should work on maintenance. Doing so will take the pressure off the bladder, reduce irritations, and decrease the severity of your symptoms.
2. Stay hydrated
People often assume you’re supposed to reduce water intake in order to preserve or improve the health of the bladder and urethra. Not true, though!
Staying hydrated is crucial. Drinking water throughout the day allows you to flush bacteria out of your urinary tract. In turn, this can manage symptoms of irritation or prevent them from developing.
Staying hydrated also dilutes urine, thus making it more difficult for bacteria to stick to your urethra and cause problems.
Ideally, you should drink water instead of fruit juices and sugar-laden beverages. Strive to drink around eight glasses of water throughout the day. If you tend to forget or wait to feel thirsty, you can always set up reminders to drink water.
3. Improve sexual hygiene practices
Sexual activity can be one of several ways bacteria enter your urethra and reach the bladder. You can improve the health of the urethra and bladder or reduce irritation symptoms by practicing good sexual hygiene.
That means you need to urinate before and after sexual intercourse. Use a condom during sex and wash your genitals before and after sexual activity.
4. Quit smoking
Not only is smoking bad for your lungs, but it’s also the enemy of your bladder and urethra. Nicotine and other toxic chemicals in cigarettes can irritate your bladder and contribute to irritation symptoms.
One of the most significant lifestyle modifications for urinary tract health is to quit smoking.
5. Manage stress
Although stress and irritation of the bladder or urethra seem unrelated, the truth is that they’re connected. Stress and anxiety increase the tension of muscles in the body. This also includes bladder muscle. Also, high stress levels can trigger a fight or flight response that results in urine leakage in some people.
Since stress affects urinary health through the nervous system, muscles, and lifestyle choices, it’s important to be proactive about its management. Instead of just waiting for it to go away, find a healthy coping mechanism that will help you overcome stressful situations.
Irritation of the bladder or urethra can be quite frustrating. You go to the bathroom frequently, but each trip seems like the biggest emergency. Other symptoms are also frustrating.
Some foods can worsen these symptoms because they irritate the bladder and urethra. Whether you already have irritation of the bladder or urethra, or you just want to prevent it, you may want to reduce your intake of some foods.
This post focused on foods you should avoid, eat, and other things to do for optimal bladder and urethral health.