Have you ever heard of the term overactive bladder or OAB? It is associated with a very strong urge to urinate and often the inability to get to a toilet in time. What you eat or drink can be affecting the function and health of your bladder. Lifestyle modifications or behavior therapies can be an effective tool that can help. You can try these tips before trying other types of treatment, such as medications or surgery, or in combination with them.
Focus on fluids and food
How much fluid you drink can influence your bladder habits, and so might certain foods you eat. Drinking too much fluid makes you urinate more often. Drinking too much too quickly can overwhelm your bladder, creating a strong sense of urgency.
Even if you need to drink more because you exercise a lot or work outdoors you don’t have to drink all fluids at once. Try drinking smaller amounts throughout the day, such as 16 ounces (473 milliliters) at each meal and 8 ounces (237 milliliters) between meals. If you get up several times at night to urinate:
- Drink more of your fluids in the morning and afternoon rather than at night
- Skip alcohol and beverages with caffeine, such as coffee, tea and cola, which increase urine production
- Remember that fluids come not only from beverages, but also from foods such as soup
Drinking too little fluid can lead to a buildup of body waste products in your urine. Highly concentrated urine is dark yellow and has a strong smell. It can irritate your bladder, increasing the urge and frequency with which you need to go.
Certain foods and beverages might irritate your bladder, including:
- Coffee, tea and carbonated drinks, even without caffeine
- Certain acidic fruits — oranges, grapefruits, lemons and limes — and fruit juices
- Spicy foods
- Tomato-based products
- Artificial sweeteners
Consider avoiding these possible bladder irritants for about a week to see if your symptoms improve. Then gradually — every one to two days — add one back into your diet, noting any changes in urinary urgency, frequency or incontinence. You might not have to eliminate your favorite foods and drinks entirely. Simply cutting down on the amount might help too.
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