How to Calm an Irritated Bladder

The bladder is a hollow organ that functions as a reservoir, stores urine, and provides continence. 

Located in the lower abdomen, the bladder is crucial for your urinary health. 

Like other organs, the bladder is also prone to problems that affect its functioning. 

One of these problems is irritation, which affects your quality of life. 

An irritated bladder increases the urinary frequency and can be a source of concern among women and men. 

Is it possible to calm an irritated bladder? How can you do it? Read on to find out. 

What is bladder irritation?

Bladder irritation is a change in urination, usually due to cystitis (inflammation of the bladder) and interstitial cystitis (chronic inflammation of the bladder). 

Inflammation of the bladder occurs due to infection, which can cause bladder pressure and pain. The pain can also affect the pelvic floor area. 

This problem affects women primarily because they have a shorter urethra. However, men can also develop urinary tract infections, bladder irritation, and other problems that affect urinary function. 

Chronic bladder irritation doesn’t have a cure, but it’s possible to manage it and keep the condition under control. 

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Symptoms of an irritated bladder

Specific symptoms of an irritated bladder vary from patient to patient. In most cases, they include (1):

  • Urinary urgency
  • Frequent need to urinate, usually in small amounts during day and night
  • Pain or discomfort as the bladder fills followed by relief when urinating
  • Chronic pelvic pain
  • Pain during sexual intercourse
  • Pain in the perineum in men and between the vagina and anus in women

In people with chronic irritated bladder, symptoms often go away and don’t appear for quite some time until something triggers them. Common triggers include sexual activity, stress, exercise, and others.

What causes irritated bladder?

Inflammation that irritates the bladder is usually caused by bacteria that enter the urethra and travel to the bladder. Since men have a longer urethra, they are at a lower risk of this problem. However, they can still have it. 

The most common type of bacteria that can enter the urinary tract and multiply in the bladder is Escherichia coli (E. coli).

In many cases, the cause of an irritated bladder is unclear. Some people may have a defect in the bladder’s epithelium (protective lining). This allows toxic substances from urine to irritate the bladder. Problems with the epithelium of the bladder are usually associated with chronic inflammation.

Everyone can get bladder irritation, but some people are at a higher risk. Common risk factors include being female, older than 30, and having a chronic pain disorder such as fibromyalgia and irritable bowel syndrome. Using a catheter can also increase the risk of bladder irritation.

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How to calm an irritated bladder 

The irritated bladder can be overwhelming due to frequent trips to the bathroom and the pain you experience. Fortunately, there’s a lot you can do to calm it. The tips below will show you how to calm an irritated bladder.

1. Avoid foods that irritate your bladder

The first step toward calming an irritated bladder is to avoid foods that worsen the symptoms you experience. The most troublesome foods include citrus fruits and juices, caffeine, tomato, and tomato-based products, spicy foods, alcohol, vinegar, and some artificial sweeteners (2). 

Besides these foods, other foods that may irritate your bladder include chocolate, carbonated drinks, onions, and processed foods. 

Ideally, you should avoid or reduce your intake of these foods. While some foods are known as bladder irritants, the experiences may vary. 

It’s useful to have a food journal where you’ll track your intake of foods and vegetables and also log symptoms you experience. This will help you detect foods that irritate your bladder and urethra.

2. Lose weight

Being overweight or obese can make you more susceptible to urinary problems, enlarged prostate, and other issues. Excess weight can also put more pressure on the bladder and contribute to inflammation and irritation. 

For that reason, weight loss and its maintenance in a healthy range are crucial strategies to calm your irritated bladder. For example, one study found that engaging in exercises that burn abdominal fat can reduce overactive bladder symptoms (3).

Although weight loss is not a quick fix, its benefits are long-term. In fact, it can help people get chronic inflammation of the bladder under control. 

Successful weight loss requires lifestyle adjustments such as physical activity and a well-balanced diet. 

3. Exercise

Physical activity is important for a healthy lifestyle and overall wellbeing. But besides standard cardio or strength training, you also need to focus on pelvic floor exercises. Also known as Kegels, these exercises are suitable for men and women. 

They have the potential to strengthen the pelvic floor and help reduce urinary symptoms. In fact, evidence shows pelvic floor exercises can decrease the amount and frequency of urine leakage caused by inflammation and irritation (4).

Kegels may seem tricky to perform, but they’re easy. To perform these exercises, you need to engage pelvic floor muscles (the ones you use to stop urine midstream). 

Kegels are all about contracting and releasing pelvic floor muscles after a short pause. In the beginning, you will be able to hold the contraction for a few seconds only. But with regular practice, you will do better and move on to more complicated Kegels. 

4. Behavioral changes

A person with an irritated bladder may benefit from changing their behavior during the day. These behaviors are mainly lifestyle and urination-related habits. 

For example, you may want to change fluid drinking behaviors, modify your diet, and schedule bathroom visits (bladder training). The latter is particularly important for people who want to calm their irritated bladder.

When your bladder is irritated, it’s typical to get used to making frequent trips to the bathroom. As soon as you have the slightest urge to urinate, you go to the bathroom. Sometimes people go to the toilet “just in case” or to prevent an accident, even though they don’t have the urge to urinate. 

Bladder training allows patients to adjust their habits. That means they schedule bathroom visits. 

When it’s time to go to the bathroom, you should do it even if you don’t have the urge to urinate. Gradually, you increase the time between urination by 15 minutes. Doing so allows you to get more control over your bladder.

You should also practice double voiding, i.e., empty your bladder, wait a few seconds, then empty it again. Keeping a bladder diary can help you learn as much as possible about your urinary habits and thereby modify your bladder training accordingly. 

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5. Supplements

Some dietary supplements can calm an irritated bladder and improve its functioning. Some of the best supplements for your bladder include l-arginine, aloe vera, magnesium, quercetin, and Omega-3 fatty acids. The latter are particularly useful because they exhibit anti-inflammatory effects. 

If you’re taking some medications, consult a healthcare provider before you get dietary supplements for the irritated bladder to reduce the risk of interactions.

6. Quit smoking

As an unhealthy habit, smoking has a negative impact on the bloodstream, cardiovascular functioning, skin health, teeth, lungs, and so much more. Smoking can also irritate your bladder because toxic compounds can travel all the way there. 

Quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do for your health and managing irritating bladder symptoms. Like weight loss, this is not a quick fix, but its benefits are long-term. 

What foods can calm the bladder?

Various factors affect bladder health, and diet is one of them. Some foods irritate your bladder, whereas others exhibit calming effects. 

Here are 21 foods that calm the bladder:

  • Apples 
  • Bananas
  • Coconut
  • Grapes
  • Strawberries
  • Watermelon
  • Blackberries
  • Broccoli
  • Asparagus
  • Cucumbers
  • Celery
  • Carrots
  • Kale
  • Peppers
  • Lettuce
  • Fish and seafood
  • Chicken 
  • Tofu
  • Eggs
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Beans and other legumes

Basically, you should choose foods that are abundant in vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that the bladder needs for proper functioning. You should also strive to eat non-acidic foods and a lot of fiber. Fiber prevents constipation which would put pressure on your bladder and aggravate irritation (5).

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How long does an irritated bladder last?

With a proactive approach, it may take weeks or months to resolve your irritated bladder symptoms. The actual duration of bladder irritation varies from one patient to another. 

Factors such as the severity of the symptoms play a role in the duration of this health issue. Some treatment approaches may take two to four months to work and help restore the inner surface of the bladder, which protects the bladder from irritants. 

However, even the most successful management options may not resolve bladder irritation entirely. Some people achieve remission, but the irritated bladder issue may appear again at some point. That’s why it’s important to modify your lifestyle, make wise choices, and focus on healthy living. 


An irritated bladder is an uncomfortable problem. Sometimes it’s not clear why it happens. This urinary problem can be persistent and negatively affect your quality of life. 

Doctor-recommended treatments often depend on the cause, but they may include medications and nerve stimulation. 

Making some lifestyle adjustments can help calm an irritated bladder. Your diet has an important role in reducing the symptoms of bladder irritation. 

Enrich your diet with foods that induce calming effects, and avoid irritating foods. It’s useful to have a food journal to identify foods that are worsening your symptoms.

Explore More

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Diet for Bladder Problems: Foods To Eat and Avoid.


  1. Cho YS. Interstitial Cystitis/Bladder Pain Syndrome: A Urologic Mystery. Int Neurourol J. 2016.
  2. Kuo HC, Chuang YC, Chancellor MB. Neurourology, diet, and painful bladder: highlights of the 37th annual conference of the international continence society, august 20-24, 2007.
  3. Hagovska M, Švihra J, Buková A, Dračková D, Horbacz A. The impact of different intensities of exercise on body weight reduction and overactive bladder symptoms- randomised trial. Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol. 2019.
  4. Dumoulin C, Cacciari LP, Hay-Smith EJC. Pelvic floor muscle training versus no treatment, or inactive control treatments, for urinary incontinence in women. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2018.
  5. Alhababi N, Magnus MC, Drake MJ, Fraser A, Joinson C. The Association Between Constipation and Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms in Parous Middle-Aged Women: A Prospective Cohort Study. J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2021.

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