Foods You Shouldn’t Eat With an Overactive Bladder

Do you find yourself struggling to maintain bladder control or frequently feeling a sudden need to urinate? These are symptoms of a condition known as overactive bladder (OAB) or urge incontinence. Overactive bladder can be a difficult condition to live with and can cause embarrassment and anxiety in your daily life.

bathroom signs for a man and woman that urgently need to urinate

Overactive bladder occurs as a result of an issue with you bladder’s storage function. When you bladder cannot store urine properly, it can frequently lead to sudden feeling of needing to urinate.

There are many factors that can influence overactive bladder and trigger urinary urges such as smoking and the volume of fluid you consume. Not only does smoking aggravate your bladder muscle, but coughing caused by smoking can also lead to spasms causing urine leakage.

Studies on people with overactive bladder have shown that what you eat can also have an affect on your bladder and worsen your incontinence symptoms. However, not everyone with overactive bladder is affected in the same way by the same foods. It is best to keep a food journal to help you determine which foods exacerbate your symptoms and which foods are safe to eat.

Keep reading to learn about some foods that are known to aggravate the bladder and could be causing problems for your overactive bladder as well.

Citrus Fruits

High amounts of citric acid can mean bad news for your bladder control. This is why it is best to avoid citrus fruits. Citrus fruits contain a lot of citric acid and can diminish your ability to maintain control your bladder.

However, this doesn’t mean you should give up fruit all together. Fruits are a key component of a healthy and balanced diet. If you suffer with overactive bladder, it may be best to eat fruits that are less acidic such as bananas or apples. You can also test different fruits to see how they affect you individually.

Some citrus fruits you should be wary of include:

  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Grapefruits
  • Oranges


Another acidic food you should probably avoid are tomatoes and tomato products. As an acidic food, tomatoes can exacerbate your overactive bladder symptoms. If you have found that tomatoes do cause your bladder irritation and worsen symptoms, make sure to also avoid tomato products, such as:

  • Ketchup
  • Salsa
  • Pizza sauce
  • Tomato based pasta sauce

Tea, Coffee and Caffeinated Beverages

Caffeine can be a serious irritant to your OAB symptoms. Caffeine tends to make the bladder more active. This can worsen your incontinence and cause increased urinary urges and frequency of urination. Because of the negative effects of caffeine, it is best to avoid beverages that have high levels of caffeine, such as:

  • Tea
  • Coffee
  • Sodas


One caffeine culprit that you might not expect is chocolate. That’s right! Chocolate does actually contain some caffeine, although it may be a smaller amount than tea or coffee. A serving of chocolate contains about a quarter of the amount of caffeine contained in a cup of coffee.

If your OAB symptoms are particularly sensitive to caffeine, it is best to avoid chocolate. However, if you simply can’t live without your chocolate fix, dark or white chocolate may be safer options. Dark chocolate has a higher level of cocoa and you may be content with smaller servings, while white chocolate typically does not contain caffeine.

Spicy Food

Another food that can be a real irritant to your bladder and exacerbate your overactive bladder symptoms is spicy food. It is probably best for you to avoid foods made with spicy peppers or hot sauces. Spicy salsas can be a real problem for you overactive bladder. Not only are they spicy, but they also contain tomatoes.

If you are not a fan of spicy food, this is an easy thing to eliminate from your diet, but for those of you who love a little spice in your life it may be difficult to part with spicy food altogether. Remember that not everyone reacts the same. Test out different spicy foods to see if they really do cause you irritation or if they are safe for you to consume.


Caffeinated beverages are not the only drinks you may want to consider cutting back on if you suffer from OAB. Alcoholic beverages can also aggravate your bladder. On top of that, alcohol can disrupt signals to your brain that alert you to bladder overflow. If you are living with overactive bladder, it is probably a good idea to limit your consumption of liquor, beer, or wine.


You may have heard that cranberry juice is good for your urinary tract and can help relieve symptoms of UTIs, but it could also be a problem if you have an overactive bladder. Cranberries and cranberry juice are acidic. They can lead to the same urge incontinence and bladder problems as tomatoes and citrus fruits.


Onions are another food best avoided for people living with OAB. Especially if eaten raw, onions can heighten the urge and frequency of urination and lead to the same bladder problems caused by acidic or spicy foods. If you simply can’t do without onions, cooking them may be a good way to lessen the negative effects on your bladder.

Processed Foods

Processed foods in general are not a good food source to choose, but they can especially be a problem for your overactive bladder. Processed foods are made with flavoring and preservatives, and these artificial ingredients can exacerbate your symptoms and aggravate your bladder.

Instead of processed foods, try a diet full of fresh and natural foods. Fresh fruits and vegetables with lean proteins and whole grains are perfect for someone living with overactive bladder.


Living with an overactive bladder can certainly make planning and maintaining a good diet that doesn’t aggravate your symptoms a challenge. However, learning what foods trigger your OAB symptoms is a key step to managing those symptoms and living a better life.

Remember that not everyone reacts the same to the foods that they eat. Just because the foods listed in this article are known to irritate the bladder and worsen OAB symptoms doesn’t mean that will be the case for you. Experiment with these foods if they are ones you like and keep a food journal to track how you react to them. This will help you identify the foods that you can keep enjoying and the ones you should definitely avoid and lead to a healthier happier you!



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