Overactive Bladder 4-1-1

Overactive bladder food appropriate tips

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

Is an overactive bladder ruining your day? Eating certain foods might irritate your bladder more, so learn the types of food you can and cannot eat and to avoid constant bathroom breaks.

Overactive bladder (OAB) is not uncommon - an estimated 33 million people in the United States alone are affected by this problem. That means one in every sixth person has this condition.

More surprisingly, those rates are believed to sky rocket by 2018, according to recent research from experts at the University of North Carolina. They believe OAB will increase by 20 percent, which will mean 546 million people are affected around the world. The researchers predict North America will have an increase of 18 percent alone.

This might be alarming to you, but OAB is treatable and manageable. You first need to know what OAB is and recognize symptoms:

OAB is a medical condition where bladder storage function is not working, which results in a uncontrolled leakage of urine regardless of the amount of urine in the bladder. This problem can happen at any age. It could be due to neurological problems (problems with the nervous system) or bladder irritation. Other causes of OAB are bladder cancer, bladder inflammation, bladder outlet obstruction, bladder stones or infection.

If you have OAB you will notice symptoms like

  • constant or frequent urination
  • Uncontrolled or involuntary leakage
  • A sudden urgency to urinate

Once health professionals figure out why your bladder is not in cahoots with your brain then treatment plans will help to minimize and eliminate symptoms. You won't have to be embarrassed or isolate yourself anymore.

There are other ways to help get your symptoms in check. Often times, certain foods can have an effect on your bladder. Learning the types of foods that cause bladder irritation and staying away from them can help reduce your symptoms and get you back into the world.

Foods that are especially upsetting to the bladder that you probably want to stay away from:

  • Alcohol - any alcoholic beverage is probably not a good idea
  • Carbonated beverages - like Coke, Dr. Pepper, Sprite and other drinks that fizz
  • Caffeinated drinks - like coffee, tea and soda
  • Artificially sweetened drinks
  • Even decaffeinated coffee can upset the bladder
  • Tomatoes and tomato products like marinara sauce
  • Highly spiced foods
  • Corn syrup
  • Honey
  • Chocolate

Weight management can be helpful for bladder control. A recent study included 338 overweight women who had OAB. The participants were separated into two groups: an intensive weight loss program or the control group. Weight loss was seen in the women who were part of the intensive weight loss group and had a greater decrease in urinary accidents.

Generally, you want to choose foods that are jam packed with essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients while having the least amount of calories as possible.

Foods that can help with weight management include:

  • Fruits and vegetables - make sure they're colorful and you choose different varieties
  • Whole grains foods like bread, cereals, pasta, brown rice, buckwheat and oats; breads, cereals and pastas should have some message that says 100 percent whole wheat or whole grain to be truly whole grain
  • Fish
  • Lean meats and poultry (chicken)
  • Fat-free or low-fat dairy (milk) products

Fluid intake is incredibly important. People with OAB might try not to drink very often because they think it will help with leakage problems, but not drinking enough fluids could cause serious health problems. You just have to find the right balance of fluids.

Appropriate fluids:

  • Water - the number one, ideal choice
  • Cranberry juice
  • Grape juice
  • Cherry juice
  • Apple juice

Fiber can be helpful if you're suffering constipation along with your OAB symptoms. Constipation can upset your bladder more so including fibers into your diet will help. Fruits, vegetables and whole grains are filled with fibers. If constipation still continues, you should speak with a health professional.

You're not alone if you're suffering from OAB, so don't face it alone. Speak with a health professional and get the treatment and advice you need to live your life to the fullest.

Review Date: 
September 28, 2011