Urology of Greater Atlanta

Foods That Irritate The Bladder And Urethra

If you suffer from an overactive bladder, urge incontinence frequency, or urinary incontinence. You will no doubt want to do all that is possible to avoid irritating your bladder further. 

Certain foods and beverages can have a detrimental effect. Avoiding these foods and drinks can go a long way in relieving the symptoms, making you more comfortable, and giving you better bladder function.

This article goes into some detail about why these foods can irritate your bladder and gives some examples. As a quick summary, bladder irritating foods and beverages include:

  • Processed foods
  • Spicy foods
  • Dairy, especially aged cheese and sour cream
  • Citrus and acidic fruits
  • Tomatoes
  • Cranberries
  • Raw onion
  • Prunes
  • Traditional chocolate (not white)
  • Carbonated drinks
  • Caffeinated drinks
  • Alcohol

In many cases, an overactive bladder will have an underlying condition such as a neurological disorder

The expert urologists at Urology of Greater Atlanta offer many diagnoses and treatment options that can help identify the reasons for your overactive bladder, restore normal bladder function, and relieve your symptoms. Their offices can be found throughout Greater Atlanta.

What Are Some Foods and Drinks I Should Avoid for Bladder Control?

Processed Foods

Processed foods contain things like preservatives, artificial flavors, benzyl alcohol, and MSG. These can all irritate the bladder and cause overactive bladder symptoms. 

Cooking your meals from scratch with fresh foods is a much better solution. Try to use fresh vegetables, fruits, and whole grains in your cooking.

Spicy Food

Spicy foods such as chili peppers, spicy salsa, and wasabi can all irritate the bladder. You could try to cut back on them to see if they are really affecting your bladder.

Dairy Products

Dairy products are known as bladder irritants. Those that can be especially bad are aged dairy products like aged cheese and sour cream. If you like dairy products, then you could try alternatives made from soy or almond milk.

Citrus and Other Acidic Fruits

Citrus and other acidic food can contribute to urge incontinence. It is because of the high acidic levels that can irritate your bladder. If you are trying to eliminate foods that cause bladder leakage, then try avoiding these types of fruits. 

Apart from citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons, and limes, other acidic fruits may include pineapples, strawberries, grapes, and apples.


Tomatoes also have high levels of acid. Tomatoes can be found in many foods like pasta sauce or ketchup. Monitor your tomato intake and avoid overdoing it if you are trying to reduce overactive bladder symptoms.


You may need to weigh the benefits against the cons with cranberries. While they are good for warding off urinary tract infections, they also have a high acidity level. This makes cranberries and cranberry juice likely bladder irritants. Reducing your intake of acidic foods will likely have additional benefits in decreasing heartburn symptoms.

Raw Onion

Raw onions can irritate the bladder. If you have an overactive bladder, bladder leakage, or incontinence, then cooked onions will likely improve your symptoms. If you want something in between, then you can try shallots which are also milder.


Prunes are good for constipation but not so good when you have bladder problems. Prunes are known to cause bladder irritation. Alternatives to ease constipation that won’t irritate the bowels are foods with high amounts of fiber, such as peas and carrots.

Traditional Chocolate

Milk chocolate and dark chocolate contain both acid and caffeine, both known bladder irritants. The good news is that you can still eat white chocolate without having the same effect. If you can’t live without traditional chocolate, then avoid eating it at night when it could cause you to take many trips to the bathroom.

Carbonated Beverages

Carbonated beverages contain substances that will irritate a sensitive bladder. You may need to avoid all types of fizzy drinks, including sparkling water and club soda.

Caffeinated Beverages

You may need to rethink your caffeine intake if you suffer from OAB symptoms. Coffee, tea (black and green), cola and energy drinks all have caffeine. Caffeine irritates the bladder and increases urine production. You can replace these drinks with caffeine-free alternatives like herbal tea.

Alcoholic Beverages

Drinking alcohol will make you urinate more. Also, alcohol is a depressant and will slow down the brain signals required for proper bladder control. You may need to cut back or stop drinking altogether to reduce symptoms.

The Bottom Line

Acidic foods and certain beverages all have the potential to irritate your bladder. If you are consuming many things on the list, you could do a food diary and monitor how different foods contribute to your symptoms. 

Try cutting out one of these foods at a time. If your symptoms improve, then put them on your “food trigger list” and avoid them. Following these urinary incontinence tips may spare you from many overactive bladder symptoms. 

If bladder problems persist despite changes to your diet, then you may need medication to control an overactive bladder.

Call or book an appointment online with Urology of Greater Atlanta to learn more about overactive bladder and the many treatments available.

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