Foods That Worsen Overactive Bladder

Medically Reviewed

At least 50 percent of men and women suffering from overactive bladder find that eliminating just one “trigger” food or beverage from their diet will greatly ease the symptoms of incontinence. For example, reducing the consumption of caffeine or alcohol will improve the body’s ability to retain urine, since both substances act to inhibit the production of anti-diuretic hormone (ADH), which concentrates and decreases the volume of urine by increasing the reabsorption of fluid by the kidneys.

Common bladder irritants include:

• Caffeine (found in coffee, tea, cola, chocolate, and certain nonprescription medications, such as Anacin and Excedrin)

• Alcohol

• Artificial sweeteners

• Carbonated beverages (with or without caffeine)

• Corn syrup

• Highly spiced foods

• Honey

• Milk or milk products

• Sugar

• Tomatoes and tomato-based products

If your symptoms are related to diet, avoiding highly acidic or spicy foods, caffeine, alcohol, and carbonated drinks should bring significant relief after approximately 10 days. Once symptoms have improved on the restricted diet, you can gradually add these foods and drinks back into the diet, one item at a time. If you find that one specific food or beverage is causing overactive bladder symptoms, it can be easily identified and avoided.