12 Food and Drink Triggers for Overactive Bladder

by Allison Bush Editor

Certain foods and drinks can aggravate your symptoms if you have OAB, so here are some modifications you may want to make to your diet.


Although this does not pertain to a drink in particular, consuming either too much or too little liquid during the day can irritate your overactive bladder. Too much liquid can lead to more trips to the bathroom and too little liquid can lead to infection, contrary to the idea that this might curb symptoms. Check with your doctor for the right amount for you.


Alcohol should be avoided for several reasons if you have an overactive bladder. First of all, it stimulates the bladder and inhibits motor control, making it more difficult to control. Alcohol also dehydrates your body, which can irritate your bladder.


Coffee, tea, soda, energy drinks and chocolate contain large amounts of caffeine. Caffeine is a stimulant and diuretic, meaning your bladder is more active and you produce more urine. It is best to minimize, or even avoid, caffeine. Try switching to decaf and eating chocolate with less caffeine, like white chocolate.


The acid in citrus fruits and juices can irritate the bladder and should be avoided. This includes oranges, limes, lemons, grapefruits, pineapples, cranberries (although they may prevent bladder infection, they are acidic and therefore not good for OAB) and tomatoes (including tomato-based products like spaghetti sauce, chili and ketchup). These acidic foods can make it harder to control leakages.


Fizzy drinks can irritate an overactive bladder, making it more difficult to control your bladder and more prone to leakages. It is best to avoid sodas, sparkling water and champagne (which has the added irritant of alcohol).

Spicy foods

Spicy foods can irritate the lining of your bladder, triggering symptoms and making it harder to control. Your diet doesn't have to be bland though - substitute herbs, garlic and other mild spices into your meals for great tastes. Plus, people with OAB have different tolerances for spicy food, so find yours by test-and-check.


Some sweeteners can be problematic for people with overactive bladder. Sweeteners can aggravate symptoms and lead to more leakages. Like spicy foods, you should try to find out which types of sweeteners, and how much, affect you.


Onions can be tough on an overactive bladder. To avoid this problem, try cooking the onions, which can dampen their effect, or switch to the related shallot. Of course, another option is to just eat fewer or no onions.


Although prunes may help with constipation, a common symptom of overactive bladder, keep in mind that they are a fruit and can irritate the bladder. Instead of relying on prunes to help with constipation, increasing your fiber intake is a great alternative.

Aged cheese and cream cheese

Dairy can affect people in different ways. It seems that the richer and creamier products like sour cream, cream cheese and aged cheese have a greater impact on an overactive bladder. Try using non-aged cheese and imitation sour cream. The best idea, though, is to figure out which dairy products affect you and adjust your diet accordingly.


Condiments can also make life with overactive bladder more uncomfortable. Condiments like mustard, soy sauce, ketchup and vinegar can contain acids or other irritants. It is best to stay away from these if possible and try replacing them with other spices, garlic or extracts.

Processed foods

Some processed foods are not good for you, but this is especially true with overactive bladder. The artificial flavors, preservatives and additives can irritate your bladder and make symptoms worse. Carefully read the nutrition labels on foods and try to cook at home when you can.

Allison Bush
Meet Our Writer
Allison Bush

Allison Bush is a former HealthCentral editor who covered a wide range of health topics.