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Bladder Irritants and the symptoms they cause

When you eat or drink something that your bladder is sensitive to, it can cause irritation that can lead to bladder irritation.  Symptoms of bladder irritation can include: 

  • Urgency: a sudden and strong urge to pee that you can’t put off 
  • Frequency: having the urge to pee more often than normal 
  • Incontinence: urinary leaking that you may or may not be able to stop 
  • Pain: Bladder or lower abdominal discomfort before, during, or after peeing 

If these symptoms are new, it is important to have them checked out with your provider as they can be a sign of an infection.  However, if you notice these symptoms frequently, you may have some bladder sensitivity to certain foods. This can also be a sign of painful bladder syndrome or interstitial cystitis.  This is an inflammatory bladder condition that can cause pain, urgency, and frequency symptoms. That is all for another blog.   

Foods that can contribute to bladder symptoms will vary from person to person, but there are some common ones that we talk to our patients about regularly. 

  • Caffeine: coffee, tea, energy drinks 
  • Carbonated beverages: soda pop, bubbly water 
  • Alcohol 
  • Acidic foods: citrus and tomatoes are ones to pay attention to 
  • Artificial sweeteners: look at ingredient lists especially of low sugar or low-calorie foods.   

With this list you can see that things like diet pop have overlapped in several of those categories.  That can be a good place to start in eliminating foods if that is something you regularly drink.  The process of finding what causes your bladder symptoms can take time and energy.  One of the best ways is to start a bladder diary.  Write down what you ate or drank and how your bladder feels.  After a few days look back to see if you start to see some correlations between your bladder symptoms and what you ate or drank.  Eliminate that food for a few days.  How does your bladder feel?  Do you have fewer symptoms?  You can then be fairly confident that you found something that triggers your bladder.  This can be overwhelming, so working with a dietician can be a big help here. 

These bladder symptoms can cause the body to respond by muscle guarding. Muscles in the pelvis and trunk respond with tension and create habitual tightening and poor movement patterns as a result. This can lead to more pain and discomfort. Pelvic floor Physical therapy can help you get to the root of what is going on, peel away layers of muscle dysfunction and help you begin to feel better.

In pelvic floor PT, we work with many people with bladder symptoms and help them work through figuring out their food triggers, making sure they are drinking enough water, managing stress, and helping improve how the pelvic floor and surrounding muscles work together.  Most of the time, as we look at the whole system, we can help by calming down your bladder symptoms and be a guide to the right resources along the way. 

We offer a free 15 minute phone consultation to help answer questions and make sure you are in the right place for healing! Click here to schedule, don’t wait to begin your healing journey.

Sarah is the proud co-owner of Foundational Concepts, Specialty Physical Therapy which opened in March 2013. Sarah lectures at the University of Missouri Department of PT, University of Kansas Departments of PT and Nurse Midwifery, and at Rockhurst University Department of PT. She is board certified in Women’s Health PT and holds certifications in medical therapeutic yoga, lymphedema therapy and dry needling.

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