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How does diet affect overactive bladder?

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Quick Answer

Changes to a person's diet can help treat overactive bladder by reducing irritation that can cause bladder spasms and the sudden, urgent, need to urinate, according to Everyday Health. Determining what foods and beverages are causing the irritation is a trial-and-error process.

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Caffeinated beverages, spicy foods and acidic foods and drinks are examples of food and beverages that can irritate the bladder, explains WebMD, and artificial sweeteners and carbonated soft drinks can have the same effects. It's important to moderate fluid intake because drinking too much can overfill the bladder, leading to incontinence, while drinking too little can promote urinary tract infections.

Medications can also affect how the bladder empties, according to WebMD. High blood pressure medications can increase urine output or relax the bladder to the point where urine escapes. Antidepressants can decrease the ability of the bladder to contract or reduce the awareness of a need to urinate. Muscle relaxants can also relax the bladder, while sedatives can reduce the sensation of a full bladder.

Individuals with overactive bladder should minimize irritating foods, or avoid them all together, advises Everyday Health. Vegetables, grains, legumes and noncitrus fruit should make up the bulk of the diet. These foods reduce constipation due to their high fiber content, and constipation can be another trigger for incontinence. Apple, grape, cherry and cranberry juices are usually well tolerated and can help prevent urinary tract infections by making the urine more acidic.

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