Person with overactive bladder problems

Foods That May Worsen Your Overactive Bladder (OAB)

Has this article been insightful? Share it!


Have you ever felt like you had to keep visiting the washroom to clear your bladder, or experienced accidental leaks? This may be a sign of an overactive bladder

Read on to find out more about overactive bladders and how certain foods may worsen your condition. 

Life with an Overactive Bladder

Comparison between the normal empty bladder, normal filled up bladder and overactive bladder


Overactive bladder results in symptoms where one experiences an increased frequency of urination, have more urgency, experience incontinence, or feel the need to urinate at night.

This can cause inconvenience and severely decrease the quality of life of the sufferer. Accidental leaks may even cause embarrassment

What causes an overactive bladder to get worse

An overactive bladder can get worse due to several reasons such as: 

  • Weak pelvic muscles 

Weak pelvic muscles may occur due to a number of reasons, such as childbirth and pregnancy, which can cause your bladder to sag out of position and result in leakages.

  • Nerve damage 

Trauma and diseases can cause nerve damage which results in signals being sent by the brain to the bladder at the wrong time.

  • Medications, alcohol, and coffee 

These can affect the signals to the brain and cause the bladder to fill quickly and leak.

  • Infection 

Infections like urinary tract infections (UTIs) can irritate the bladder nerves and cause the bladder to contract without warning.

  • Excess weight 

Excess weight can cause extra pressure to be placed on the bladder, which can cause leakages.

  • Hormonal changes during menopause 

Menopause can lead to low oestrogen levels, and as a side effect, causes the pelvic floor muscles to relax and the bladder to weaken. 

Are there food items that could worsen your overactive bladder?

There are food items that can worsen your overactive bladder. If you suspect you may have an overactive bladder, you could consider keeping clear from:

  • Caffeinated drinks such as coffee and tea

Caffeine has a diuretic effect, increasing blood flow to the kidneys and reducing the absorption of water and sodium. This leads to an increased urge to urinate. 

  • Carbonated drinks

Certain carbonated drinks may contain bladder irritants, like caffeine, or acidic fruits such as grapefruits and oranges. 

  • Alcohol

Alcohol is also a diuretic, increasing the production of urine. It also irritates the bladder, worsening OAB.

  • Spicy foods

Spicy foods may inflame the lining of your bladder and trigger overactive bladder symptoms. 

  • Chocolates

Chocolate is acidic and contains caffeine, which triggers OAB. Some people also find that milk and dairy products exacerbate their OAB symptoms. 

Ways on how to combat it / remedy

There are some things that you may do to help combat an overactive bladder: 

  • Pelvic floor exercises or Kegel exercises that will help to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles.
  • Lose weight: Losing weight takes the extra pressure off your bladder and helps to improve incontinence.
  • Scheduled toilet trips: Having scheduled toilet trips may help your bladder get used to urinating at the same time everyday.
  • Absorbent pads: Using absorbent pads may help to catch any accidental leaks and prevent embarrassment. 
  • Topical oestrogen can be prescribed to postmenopausal women.
  • Oral medication can also be prescribed to relieve OAB symptoms. 

Ways to treat / Treatment Options

Treatment options for overactive bladder include:


  • Medications: There are medications available that help to relieve symptoms of an overactive bladder and reduce incontinence. Examples of such medications include muscarinic receptor antagonists, Beta-3 antagonists, desmopressin and local oestrogen.  
  • Neurotoxin bladder injections: Neurotoxin injections may be administered into the bladder to help relax the bladder and reduce urge incontinence. 
  • Nerve modulation: A thin wire is placed close to the spinal nerve which controls the bladder and regulates the signal that is being sent to the bladder. Alternatively, a small needle can be placed at the ankle to stimulate a smaller nerve which leads to the spinal nerve.  
  • Surgery: Surgery may be used for patients with severely overactive bladder and is done to increase the bladder capacity of the patient. The bladder may be completely removed in some cases and be replaced with a stoma bag. 


Having an overactive bladder can bring severe inconvenience to the sufferer and decrease his or her quality of life. If you experience overactive bladder symptoms, please seek professional help as soon as possible. 

Has this article been insightful? Share it!