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Ingredients in Food That Cause Frequent Urination or Bladder Irritation

Ingredients in Food That Cause Frequent Urination or Bladder Irritation Ingredients in Food That Cause Frequent Urination or Bladder Irritation Ingredients in Food That Cause Frequent Urination or Bladder Irritation

When choosing food and beverages, selecting low-fat or low-sugar options is widely known to be healthier than fat-laden, high-sugar choices. A less often considered relationship is the effect of food and drink on the bladder. Certain ingredients may result in frequent urination or bladder irritation. Although these effects may not be extreme enough to necessitate eliminating a food or drink from your diet, they are important to be aware of and may be possible to prevent.


Caffeine is a stimulant ingredient found in coffee, tea, and soda. It is a diuretic---that is, it increases the amount of urine that you pass out of your body. This diuretic effect may cause you to urinate more often than usual, a condition known as urinary frequency. Another issue that may arise when drinking large amounts of caffeinated beverages is dehydration. The Mayo Clinic explains that dehydration may cause your urine to be overly concentrated, which can irritate the bladder---another unpleasant potential consequence of caffeine. A simple way to prevent both urinary frequency and bladder irritation is to select beverages that are uncaffeinated: herbal teas, caffeine-free sodas, and decaffeinated coffee are alternatives.

Artificial Sweeteners

According to the American Urogynecologic Society patient information sheet, certain artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame, can irritate the bladder. This irritation may result in bladder spasms, in turn causing urinary frequency or urinary incontinence, which is an inability to control the passage of urine from the bladder. Sodas and other drinks that are labeled as diet or sugar free often contain some form of artificial sweetener. For instance, Diet Pepsi contains aspartame, as does Diet Lemon Tea Snapple. The advantage of artificial sweeteners is that they contain no calories but still provide sweetness. A disadvantage, however, is the potential for bladder irritation and urinary frequency.


Alcoholic beverages---wine, beer, and hard liquors such as whiskey---may result in urinary frequency as well. Alcohol, like caffeine, can stimulate the bladder, and it also acts as a diuretic. If you drink alcoholic beverages frequently, you may attribute your frequent trips to the restroom to the large amount of liquid that you've ingested; in fact, the alcohol itself is also a contributing factor. As with caffeine-containing drinks, the diuretic effect may result in dehydration: if a person is losing, through urination, more liquid than he needs for normal body processes, he will become dehydrated. The abnormally concentrated, or salt-rich, urine that you produce when you're dehydrated can irritate your bladder. The Mayo Clinic reminds patients that a simple way to minimize urinary frequency as well as the possibility of resulting urinary incontinence is to avoid drinking alcoholic beverages.

High-Acid Citrus

The American Urogynecologic Society offers another possible culprit for urinary frequency and bladder irritation: high-acid fruits such as oranges, lemons, grapefruit and tomatoes. The reason acidic foods sometimes cause bladder irritation is unclear---indeed, the AUS patient information sheet points out that scientific studies have not proved such a relationship. For some patients, however, reducing or entirely eliminating such foods from their diets may help improve the incontinence and frequency that can result when the bladder is aggravated.

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