Diet

Overactive Bladder: Foods to Avoid

Overactive bladder is quite uncomfortable to live with, considering its symptoms. And yet, there are so many people facing this issue on a day-to-day basis.

Perhaps you, too, are having trouble with your irritated bladder as well. If that is the case, we highly recommend reading the following article.

Today’s topic is all about overactive bladder and how changing your diet may help.

What can cause an overactive bladder?

The term overactive bladder (OAB) refers to the sudden urge to urinate. This condition can sometimes lead to urinary incontinence. This means that the patient is experiencing an involuntary loss of urine. Some people refer to the overactive bladder as urge incontinence.

However, that would be wrong. You see, patients with urgency incontinence, they always experience an involuntary loss of urine. Those with overactive bladder do not necessarily mean that they would necessarily leak urine despite feeling the sudden urge to urinate.

Overactive bladder is a condition that affects as much as 33 American adults. Research has also shown that this is a more common problem found in women as compared to men.

Doctors refer to the overactive bladder symptoms as quite unpredictable, and that is true. The majority of the symptoms are limiting, thus affecting the patient’s everyday life and activities. We see many patients deal with mental distress due to the presence of OAB symptoms.

Usually, the first symptom that the patient asks for help with is urinary incontinence. We all have experienced urinary urgency at some point in our lives. Usually, laughing is the most common cause for the occasional incontinence. However, an overactive bladder is causing this symptom daily. OAB can also cause stress incontinence.

But the loss of bladder control is not the only symptom. Other urinary symptoms are present, as well. Urinary frequency is increased as well. These patients tend to urinate more than eight times in 24 hours. They may also experience nocturia, which refers to waking up in the middle of the night to urinate. 

Now the question is – what can cause such big of a problem? The truth is that there are quite a few different factors and causes. Doctors remain unsure as to what exactly causes this issue. Here are some of the common factors that threaten your healthy bladder.

  • Excessive fluid intake

  • Bladder cancer

  • Bladder stones

  • A urinary tract infection including a bladder infection

  • Use of certain medications

  • Common bladder irritants such as caffeine, alcohol, etc.

The relationship between your diet and overactive bladder

Living with an overactive bladder means that you need to consider making some diet changes seriously. Over the years, doctors have concluded that there is a variety of foods and drinks that worsen OAB symptoms.

Some of them, such as alcohol, overstimulate the already sensitive bladder, thus making your bathroom visits more frequent. Others, such as spicy food, make the symptoms harder to control.

It is no surprise knowing how big of an effect diet has on our overall health, both physical and mental health. However, figuring out what exactly worsens your symptoms can take some time. This is, after all, a lengthy process that is unique for everyone. What may work for you does not necessarily mean that it will work for the next patient. 

Knowing that you would need to experiment quite a lot when it comes to your diet. And this rule is not limited to food only. Instead, it also refers to drinks, including some of the most popular drinks such as coffee, alcohol, and even energy drinks. 

One drink that many patients have divided feelings about is water. There is no doubt that water is the best drink for ultimate health. However, OAB patients still need to keep an eye on their water intake as well.

No matter how healthy it is, every drink can potentially worsen your symptoms. With the excessive amount of water, expect more frequent trips to the bathroom. And if you are drinking carbonated water, the symptoms are even worse. 

What should you limit or remove from your diet?

We mentioned some foods and drinks that OAB patients are better off without. Here is a full list of foods and drinks that you would need to avoid.

  • Carbonated drinks such as sodas, mineral water, and other carbonated beverages

  • Caffeine, including coffee, green tea, energy drinks, and any other caffeine-infused drinks

  • Alcohol

  • Chocolate

  • Citrus fruits including oranges, limes, and lemons

  • Tomatoes, fresh or canned, including tomato-based products

  • Spicy foods

  • Honey

  • Raw onion

  • Sports drinks

  • Processed foods

  • Refined sugar

  • Cranberries and cranberry juice, etc.

What foods should go into your diet?

As you can see, the key is to keep your diet as healthy as possible. That is the only way that you will keep your bladder healthy as well. You would also minimize the symptoms and the potential complications that come with an overactive bladder.

Here is a tip. Get a pen and a piece of paper and start writing your shopping list by including all of the foods you will find below. 

Fresh fruits 

  • Apples

  • Bananas

  • Grapes

  • Watermelon

  • Blackberries

  • Strawberries

  • Raspberries, etc.

Delicious veggies

  • Cucumbers

  • Carrots

  • Kale

  • Lettuce

  • Peppers

  • Asparagus

  • Broccoli

  • Celery, etc.

Whole-grains

  • Oats

  • Barley

  • Brown rice

  • Quinoa, etc

Essential protein 

  • Chicken

  • Eggs

  • Tofu

  • Fish, etc.

Treatment

As long as the exact cause remains unknown, doctors are unable to provide one treatment that suits all patients. And so, we are looking at many possible treatment options. The good news is that the majority of patients have experienced significant relief in their symptoms after experimenting with these treatments. 

Physical therapy

Your overactive bladder causes the pelvic floor muscles to involuntary contract, thus causing the well-known symptoms. The pelvic floor muscles are the muscles that relax and allow the urine to pass through the act of urination. When you want to hold your urine, these muscles stay contracted. 

Pelvic floor exercises, popularly known as Kegel exercises, help strengthen these muscles. By increasing their strength, you will gain more control over them, ultimately improving your symptoms. 

Bladder retraining

On the other hand, bladder retraining is an effective way to retrain your bladder muscle and its nerves. The ultimate effect would allow you to hold your urine for a longer period of time. To do that, simply wait at least two to three minutes before you urinate every time you feel an urge. When you feel comfortable with the results, start to increase the time. 

Nerve stimulation

Nerve stimulation is the usual treatment method for those with moderate to severe overactive bladder. This treatment sends electrical pulses to either the tibial or the sacral nerve. These are the nerves that share the same path with your bladder. Electrical stimulation would help improve the communication between the brain and the bladder, thus improving the symptoms. 

Medication

A lot of the time, doctors use prescribed medications to treat the symptoms of OAB. These medications are designed to calm the urinary tract muscles and nerves. They can also help soothe any bladder pain and spasm. There are several types of prescription medications. It is up to the doctor to decide on which medication may be most effective in your case. 

Bladder Botox treatment

You may recognize Botox as the most popular wrinkle reducer in the world, but its use extends far beyond that. Many medical conditions are treated with the use of botulinum Botox injections. The usual practice involves trying prescription medications first. In case they do not result in the wanted effects, it is only then that the doctor will decide on using Botox. Botox helps calm the bladder muscles and reduce the symptoms.

Lifestyle management

In the majority of cases, doctors rely on lifestyle change before advising any of the previous treatment methods. These changes often revolve around the patient’s diet, drinking habits, physical exercise, and even bathroom visits. These are some of the most effective lifestyle changes.

  • Keep a bladder diary – This may sound odd, but keeping an eye on your bathroom trips may come in handy. A bladder diary can help identify any worsening of your symptoms. You can also use this diary to write down your daily fluid intake and see if that is what has been causing your symptoms to worsen.

  • Quit smoking – Smoking has been identified as a potential trigger factor for bladder cancer. If you remember, we mentioned bladder cancer as one of the possible causes of overactive bladder. In addition, smoking triggers bladder irritation, which is also a possible cause for OAB symptoms. 

  • Exercise daily – While Kegel exercises are great to strengthen your pelvic floor, you may also want to activate your whole body. Daily exercise can help you maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese increases the risk of urinary incontinence and compromises your bladder health. Not to mention all of the additional complications that come with being overweight. 

  • Keep an eye on your caffeine intake – We mentioned caffeine being one of the things that you need to take less of. Limiting your caffeine intake to no more than 1-2 cups a day can help relieve your OAB symptoms. 

Supplements 

There are some dietary supplements, vitamins, and herbs that you can explore. Mushroom extracts and plant extracts such as capsaicin are highly recommended. Speaking of supplements, you can give magnesium hydroxide and L-arginine a try. Taking a multivitamin in addition to your overactive bladder diet would be beneficial as well, especially at the beginning of the transition period. 

Alternative treatment

Some more alternative treatments include the use of essential oils and acupuncture. Essential oils are used as a part of aromatherapy. They can help relax the muscles and nerves, thus helping relieve some of the symptoms.

You may want to try lavender oil, pumpkin seed oil, clary sage oil. Rub some essential oils on your wrists or inhale your chosen essential oil.

Conclusion

Have you noticed your symptoms getting worse after having a few cups of coffee or maybe a few glasses of wine? Perhaps it is your love your spicy food that is making your OAB symptoms worse. But with so many foods to avoid, what are you supposed to eat? Today, we answered all of your questions about the overactive bladder diet. Our only hope is that they will help you as much as possible.

Sources

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  7. Srikrishna, S., Robinson, D., Cardozo, L., & Vella, M. (2007). Management of overactive bladder syndrome. Postgraduate Medical Journal, 83(981), 481-486. doi:10.1136/pgmj.2007.057232
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  8. Macdiarmid, S. A., John, M. S., & Yoo, P. B. (2018). A pilot feasibility study of treating overactive bladder patients with percutaneous saphenous nerve stimulation. Neurourology and Urodynamics, 37(5), 1815-1820. doi:10.1002/nau.23531
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  9. Orasanu, B., & Mahajan, S. (2013). The use of botulinum toxin for the treatment of overactive bladder syndrome. Indian Journal of Urology, 29(1), 2. doi:10.4103/0970-1591.109975
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