5 Foods to Avoid if You Have an Overactive Bladder

Even though spicy foods have multiple health benefits, in the case of an overactive bladder, it's better to avoid eating them because they can irritate the tissues in your bladder and cause leakage.
5 Foods to Avoid if You Have an Overactive Bladder
Maricela Jiménez López

Reviewed and approved by the doctor Maricela Jiménez López.

Last update: 09 October, 2022

An overactive bladder is one that produces an urgent and sudden need to urinate. 

It’s a syndrome caused by the involuntary contraction of the muscles that surround this organ, which can produce the incontrollable escape of urine (urge incontinence).

For those that suffer from this, it can be quite embarrassing, not only because it’s difficult to control but because the leakage of urine is embarrassing and can limit your social and work life. 

The most worrying is that many people ignore the problem, not getting the right treatment, and develop severe incontinence and other urinary conditions.

Therefore, it’s important to know what measures to take to control it and what foods can have harmful effects when incorporated in your diet.

In this article, we will explain some of it’s main causes and 5 foods that it’s better to avoid to not have other complications.

What Are Some Causes of a Hyperactive Bladder?

A hyperactive bladder develops when the muscles around the organ start to involuntarily contract, although there may not be much urine in the bladder.

These contractions trigger an urgent need to urinate that, many times, ends in an unwanted leak if the person doesn’t immediately go to the bathroom.

Risk Factors

Losing control of your bladder can have unknown causes. However, there are various triggers that are associated with its development:

  • Excessive consumption of liquids
  • Neurological problems
  • Diuretic medications
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Enlarged prostate
  • Constipation
  • Deterioration of cognitive function due to aging
  • Excessive consumption of caffeine or alcohol
  • Anomalies in the bladder, like tumors or stones
  • Incomplete emptying of the bladder
  • Herniated discs
  • Stress

Symptoms of an Overactive Bladder

overactive bladder

Overactive bladder is a syndrome that produces a series of changes in urinating habits. Its main symptoms include:

  • Urgent and sudden need to urinate
  • Involuntary urine leakage
  • Urinating more frequently, eight or more times throughout the day
  • Needing to urinate during the night (nocturia)

Foods to Avoid with an Overactive Bladder

The excessive consumption of some foods can be harmful to patients with an overactive bladder since their components increase the irritation and inflammation in this organ.

It’s very important that you limit these foods, at least during treatment, since they can interfere with your recovery process.

1. Tomato


You can’t deny that the tomato is one of the most nutritious foods. However, in the case of patients with this problem, it’s not recommended.

  • This fruit contains acids that irritate your urinary tract and the tissues in your bladder. Its diuretic effect increases urine production can cause greater leakage. 
  • On the other hand, it can be much worse when cooked because its acidity intensifies and sometimes has added sugar.

2. Coffee

Coffee, and foods that contain caffeine in general, can have harmful effects on patients with difficulty controlling their bladder.

  • This stimulant can cause hyperactive cerebral and nervous activity, even when consumed in small amounts.
  • These consequences interfere with the functions of your bladder, increasing the need to urine, even when there isn’t much liquid to expel.

3. Spicy Foods

Spicy Foods

Many spicy condiments contain nutrients that benefit your health. Despite this, they aren’t recommended if you have bladder or urinary tract issues due to the irritability it can cause in its tissues.

  • Spicy dishes trigger an inflammatory response that can make the bladder have to work harder. 
  • It’s ideal to exclude cayenne pepper, chile peppers, turmeric and other spicy condiments from your diet.

Also read:
Spicy Juice to Boost Your Energy and Your Mood 

4. Citrus Juices

They are delicious and are an important source of vitamin C. However, due to its high acid concentration, patients with an overactive bladder should avoid them.

  • Its composition can increase irritation in your bladder, increasing the contractions that make you feel like you need to go to the bathroom.
  • Additionally, they have a light diuretic effect that can give you the impulse that you need to expel liquids, increasing leakage.

5. Sugary Foods

Sugary Foods

All kinds of sugary foods, including those with artificial sweeteners, have harmful effects on the body when consumed in excess.

  • Refined sugar irritates the mucous in your body and increases imbalances in the level of inflammation.
  • This influences your lack of control of your bladder and the appearance of pain or a burning sensation.
  • Be sure to avoid pastries, sweets, and any other sugary food.

If you have symptoms of an overactive bladder, consult your doctor. While there are factors that you can’t control, there are therapies and medications that can help reduce them so that they don’t affect your quality of life.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

    • Wooldridge, L. S. (2016). Overactive bladder. In The Nurse Practitioner in Urology. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-28743-0_14
    • Dallosso, H. M., McGrother, C. W., Matthews, R. J., & Donaldson, M. M. K. (2003). The association of diet and other lifestyle factors with overactive bladder and stress incontinence: A longitudinal study in women. BJU International. https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1464-410X.2003.04271.x
    • Romanzi, L. J. (2004). Management of Overactive Bladder. CNS Spectrums. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1092852900009767
    • Bladder irritating foods. (2013, August 28). Retrieved from
    • Lohsiriwat, S., Hirunsai, M., & Chaiyaprasithi, B. (2011). Effect of caffeine on bladder function in patients with overactive bladder symptoms. Urology Annals. https://doi.org/10.4103/0974-7796.75862
    • Tomas, L. (2008). Which foods are associated with incontinence, and how does evidence for electrical and magnetic devices stack up? Journal of Complementary Medicine.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.